Great Britain’s bid to reach the Davis Cup Finals knockout stage started with a superb 2-1 victory over Australia as debutant Jack Draper and Dan Evans both won their singles matches.
In the first of a best-of-three-match tie, Draper won 6-7 (6-8) 6-3 7-6 (7-4) against Thanasi Kokkinakis.
Evans beat Alex de Minaur, ranked 12th in the world, 6-1 2-6 6-4 in the second singles match on Wednesday.
Evans and Neal Skupski later lost 7-6 (7-5) 6-4 in the doubles.
While Britain had already won the tie, the doubles loss to Matthew Ebden and Max Purcell could still prove crucial later in the week when it comes down to clinching qualification.
Four nations – Britain, Australia, France and Switzerland – are playing in the group stage event held at Manchester’s AO Arena.
They all play each other once in a round-robin format, with the top two countries going through to the knockout stage – known as the ‘Final Eight’ – in Malaga in November.
Britain play Switzerland on Friday and face France in the final tie of the event on Sunday.
France are top of the group as it stands after winning all three matches in Tuesday’s opening tie against the Swiss.
Draper and Evans repay the faith
With a wealth of options at his disposal, British captain Leon Smith sprung somewhat of a surprise by picking Draper and Evans as his two singles players ahead of Cameron Norrie and Andy Murray.
Norrie, 28, remains the nation’s highest-ranked player but has been unable to match the consistently high levels that took him into the world’s top 10 last year.
Former world number one Murray, 36, has enjoyed a productive season in which he broke back into the world’s top 40 for the first time since having career-saving hip surgery in 2019.
However, he was left despondent after another early Grand Slam exit at the US Open and conceded in New York he did not “deserve” to play ahead of Draper.
Smith, too, decided that was the case as he picked current form over previous pedigree.
The move paid off as Draper and Evans ensured a British victory against an Australian side who finished as runners-up in the competition last year.
“I’m playing for my country and had to put everything out on the line – usually I’m playing for myself,” said Draper, who reached a career-high ranking of 38th in January before his season was decimated by injury.
“There is nothing better. It was a real battle, it is amazing to play my first Davis Cup tie in the UK and I’m grateful to be here.
“I’m so happy Leon trusted me and put me out here.”