Davis Cup 2023: Great Britain qualify for Final 8 in Malaga

Davis Cup 2023: Great Britain qualify for Final 8 in Malaga

Great Britain has qualified for the Davis Cup Final 8 in Malaga after finishing top of Group B.

After claiming victories over Australia and Switzerland earlier in the week, the Brits capped off an unbelievable run at the AO Arena in Manchester with an emphatic 2-1 victory over France.

The Lexus Great Britain Davis Cup team joined Australia as Group B’s qualifying nations and will now head to the Davis Cup Final 8 in Malaga in November in a bid to be crowned Davis Cup champions. They will be joined by Serbia, Finland, Canada, Italy, the Czech Republic, and the Netherlands as the best-performing teams from the other three groups.

“It was bonkers. I’m not sure what I’ve just sat through for nine hours” Leon Smith, Lexus Great Britain Davis Cup Captain, said.

“I’m not sure if this is our ninth hour or so of playing but it’s tough to keep going all the time and everybody here did a good job. They needed a bit of help and that’s normal.

“Thank you, everyone, thank you Manchester, and thank you LTA for putting it on.”

Speaking on the squad that led Great Britain to victory in Manchester, Smith added, “They’re amazing. We get on incredibly well, everyone’s played an important part. All you can do is give your best effort – that’s all you can ask for.”

Dan Evans kicked off Sunday’s proceedings with an impressive comeback win against 19-year-old Arthur Fils in the opening singles rubber of the day. The British No.2 played a vital part in all of Great Britain’s victories after he beat world No.13 Alex de Minaur in his singles match against Australia before joining forces with Neal Skupski to take down Stan Wawrinka and Dominic Stricker in the deciding doubles rubber against Switzerland.

Following his 7-5, 6-4 defeat to Wawrinka on Friday night, British No.1 Cam Norrie looked to bounce back against world No.36 Ugo Humbert. After finding his form to take the second set, Norrie looked as though he would force a final set tie-break but a double fault on his serve saw the rubber fall in the favour of France to level up the tie to 1-1.

With everything to play for and a spot in the Final 8 on the line, it was down to Evans and Skupski to battle one last time in their deciding doubles rubber against Nicolas Mahut and Edouard Roger-Vasselin. A nail-biting three-set thriller saw the British duo push the French pair to their limits – eventually prevailing in the third set tie-break to clinch a 1-6, 7-6(4), 7-6(6) win and send a packed-out home crowd into an eruption of cheers.

Great Britain will now go on to compete for the 2023 Davis Cup title in Malaga between 21-26 November.

They will face either Italy or Serbia as the runners-up in Groups A and C, with the draw taking place next week.

In front of a partisan British crowd in Manchester, Evans and Skupski beat Nicolas Mahut and Edouard Roger-Vasselin 1-6 7-6 (7-4) 7-6 (8-6).

Evans won from a set and a breakdown in the singles but Cameron Norrie lost.

Evans and Skupski, roared on by the home fans, recovered to seal the victory.

“It was bonkers. I don’t know what we’ve all sat through for nine hours,” British captain Leon Smith said.

Great Britain will now go on to the knockout phase of the men’s team competition – known as the Final Eight – in the Spanish city of Malaga in November.

Four nations – Britain, Australia, France, and Switzerland – played in the round-robin event at Manchester’s AO Arena, with the top two countries going through.

Britain, who last won the Davis Cup in 2015, finished as Group B winners and will play Serbia or Italy when the draw is made on Tuesday.

Australia progressed as runners-up, with defending champions Canada, the Czech Republic, Finland, and the Netherlands completing the line-up.

But notable absences will be hosts Spain, who failed to make it out of Group C, and 32-time champions the United States, who were stunned by Finland in their final Group D tie.

‘No panic’ for Evans and Skupski in nerve-wracking finale

With Australia already qualified and Switzerland eliminated, Britain knew nothing other than a victory in the best-of-three tie against France would enable them to progress.

What few of the 13,000 crowd – a record for a Davis Cup tie in the UK – would have predicted was the dramatic manner in which their goal was finally achieved.

Evans, 33, laid the platform for the win when he fought back to beat French teenager Arthur Fils 3-6 6-3 6-4.

British number one Norrie, 28, could not get his side over the line as he lost 7-6 (7-5) 3-6 7-5 to Ugo Humbert, teeing up the winner-takes-all doubles match.

Evans and Skupski, who have become Smith’s first-choice doubles pair, recovered from a strong start by their experienced rivals before growing in confidence as the boisterous home fans lifted their spirits.

Despite being unable to make a dent in the French pair’s serve in the opening two sets, Evans and Skupski went up a gear in the tie-break to level the match.

A nail-biting deciding set also remained on serve – but only after Evans recovered from a double fault which brought up three match points at 5-4.

Evans found a first serve to save one as Roger-Vasselin hit a forehand into the net, boldly watched another return go just long on the second, and then saw another forehand from the Frenchman go wide on the third.

The British pair saved another match point on Skupski’s serve at 6-5 before converting their second opportunity in the deciding tie-break.

“There was no panic,” said 33-year-old Skupski, who is the world doubles number three and this year’s Wimbledon champion.

“We just went to the next point. I knew if we got through that game somehow the momentum was going to swing our way.”

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