|Great Britain v Uzbekistan – Davis Cup play-off|
|Venue: Emirates Arena, Glasgow Dates: 14-16 September Coverage: Live video on the Red Button and online; live text commentaries on the BBC Sport website|
Great Britain and Uzbekistan are level at 1-1 in their Davis Cup tie after a gutsy victory for Dan Evans and shock defeat for Cameron Norrie in Glasgow.
World number 70 Norrie squandered a match point in a 0-6 5-7 7-6 (8-6) 6-2 6-2 defeat by world number 434 Jurabek Karimov in the best-of-five tie.
Before that Evans had held his nerve in a rollercoaster 7-6 (7-4) 4-6 0-6 6-4 7-5 victory over Denis Istomin.
Evans was playing his first GB match since serving a 12-month drug ban.
The tie continues on Saturday with a doubles match – Jamie Murray and Dom Inglot taking on Istomin and Sanjar Fayziev – before Sunday’s reverse singles.
“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,” an emotional Evans said, after a match against world number 60 Istomin that lasted four hours and 14 minutes.
“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.”
With a revamped Davis Cup being introduced next year, this tie is no longer about relegation from the elite World Group. Instead, if Great Britain win they will be seeded in the new competition in February.
- Quiz: How well do you know GB’s Davis Cup stars?
- Follow GB’s Davis Cup tie on the BBC
Britain, playing without three-time Grand Slam champion Andy Murray and the country’s number one Kyle Edmund, got off to a perfect start through Evans against the highest-ranked player in the tie.
But the Englishman, who had been a set and a break up before Istomin fought back, made it harder work for himself by missing 18 of 23 break points.
He produced the breakthrough in the first set when he sent a forehand down the line to get the mini-break for 5-3 in the tie-break and wrapped up the set with a backhand volley at the net.
Evans went 2-0 up in the second set but was pegged back in the following game, and then failed to convert seven out of eight break points as Istomin took the set when the Briton went long.
With the first two sets having taken just over two hours, the Uzbek number one then raced through the third set in 21 minutes, before Evans stopped the rot by winning the opening game of the fourth set after losing nine games in a row.
The momentum continued to swing in the fifth, with each player breaking twice before Evans won the match with a forehand on his sixth match point on Istomin’s serve.
Evans, who failed a drug test after remnants of cocaine contaminated legal medication in his washbag, returned to tennis in April this year and has climbed back to 222nd in the world after winning a Challenger event in Vancouver last month.
The big screen at the Emirates Arena had shown a good luck video message from Andy Murray, who was so instrumental to Great Britain’s 2015 Davis Cup triumph but is absent from this tie as he continues his rehabilitation following hip surgery.
“Unfortunately this might be the last time we get to play in Glasgow as a team,” the 31-year-old said. “I hope you all make the most of it.”
What the Scot would not have wanted was to see Uzbekistan’s lowly ranked Karimov make the most of his moment on the Davis Cup stage after a nervous start.
The 20-year-old served up three double faults in the opening game and looked out of his depth as Norrie ran away with the first set in 20 minutes.
There were signs in the second set of a different Karimov – and a less assured Norrie – with the pair sharing seven breaks of serve before the Briton closed it out to seemingly take control of the match.
But Karimov stamped out his errors and saved a match point in the third-set tie-break to force a fourth set.
The 20-year-old Uzbek broke twice in the fourth as Norrie’s game unravelled, his unforced error count grew and his shoulders slumped.
Norrie, who had come from two sets down to stun Spain’s Roberto Bautista Agut on his Davis Cup debut in February, could not raise his game and found himself a double break down in the decider, eventually losing when he sent a forehand long.
“I guess it just makes the tie more interesting,” Norrie said.
“I’ll try to forget that as soon as possible but it hurts a lot because I’m not playing for myself, I’m playing for the team.”
BBC tennis correspondent Russell Fuller in Glasgow
This was a chastening experience for Norrie after the triumph of his Davis Cup debut on Spanish clay in February. On his home debut, he was completely in control of the match and had a match point for a straight-set victory.
Karimov played nothing like the world number 434 – and away from home, at the age of 20, what a memorable way to earn your first Davis Cup singles point.
Evans has endured a lot of bad days in the past 18 months, but today was fighting back the tears as he celebrated victory with captain Leon Smith.
Evans’ recent woes were entirely self-inflicted, but it was a magnificent effort to beat the in-form Denis Istomin in his first full five-set match in over two years.
He has knuckled down and won a lot of matches at Challenger level since April, and now looks as if he could feature strongly again on the ATP Tour during 2019.
With Jamie Murray and Dom Inglot in action in Saturday’s doubles, GB are still in the box seat – but there is now much less margin for error.