Great Britain and Uzbekistan are level at 1-1 in their Davis Cup World Group Playoff after a victory for Dan Evans and shock loss for Cameron Norrie in the opening singles rubbers in Glasgow.
Evans claimed a hard-fought 7-6 (7-4), 4-6, 0-6, 6-4, 7-5 win over World No. 60 Denis Istomin, the highest-ranked player in the tie.
The Briton was playing his first Davis Cup rubber since serving a 12-month drug ban after remnants of cocaine contaminated legal medication in his washbag.
“It’s been tough but everybody who supported me, who has been right behind me from the time I started back, I can only thank them,” Evans said after his match.
“Days like today don’t come around very often. Who knows, I may not get in the team next time, so I have to remember this and enjoy it.”
Evans, who had been a set and a break up before Istomin fought back, made it hard work for himself by missing 18 of 23 break points.
World No. 70 Norrie squandered a match point in a 0-6, 5-7, 7-6 (8-6), 6-2, 6-2 defeat by World No. 434 Jurabek Karimov.
Two 5-setters ✅
A 0-2 comeback ✅
All to play for ✅
Fans in Glasgow certainly got their money's worth!
— Davis Cup (@DavisCup) September 14, 2018
Meanwhile, hosts Serbia took a 2-0 lead against India in their Group Play-off tie after Laslo Djere beat Ramkumar Ramanathan 3-6, 6-4, 7-6(7-2) 6-2 and Dusan Lajovic powered past Prajnesh Gunneswaran 6-4, 6-3, 6-4.
Djere had to dig deep after Ramanathan won the first set. The 23 year-old World No. 135-ranked Indian looked the more confident player in the early part of the contest before a disastrous double fault in the final game of the second set allowed Djere back into the match.
The pair traded breaks early in the third set, with Ramanathan volleying superbly and Djere replying with superb shots from the baseline, but the Serb took it after a near-flawless tiebreaker.
Djere saved two break points while trailing 2-1 in the fourth set before wrapping up the contest in 3 hours 11 minutes.
“I was quite tense before the match because we headed into it as the favourites and I am delighted to have given us the lead,” Djere told Serbian television in a courtside interview.
“I got a bit of a scare as I twisted my ankle when I tumbled over early in the first set. Fortunately I was able to recover quickly and I’ll be ready for Sunday’s reverse singles,” he said.
Lajovic was never really in trouble against Gunneswaran, although the Indian refused to roll over, showing occasional flashes of brilliance before the World No. 56 claimed victory in 1 hour, 56 minutes.
“It wasn’t as easy as it may have seemed but I was in control throughout and I tried hard to make sure I gave him no chance of getting into the match,” Lajovic said.
The winners of this weekend’s World Group Playoffs will be seeded in the revamped Davis Cup in February.
Friday’s other World Group Playoff ties:
Argentina 2 Colombia 0
Austria 2 Australia 0
Canada 2 Netherlands 0
Hungary 1 Czech Republic 1
Japan 2 Bosnia-Herzegovina 0
Switzerland 1 Sweden 1