During an unforgettable week at the Davis Cup in Manchester, Andy Murray made a remarkable comeback against Switzerland’s Leandro Riedi on Friday. With this victory, Murray continued to uphold the impressive legacy of his 18-year career in the competition, boasting a singles record of 33 wins and only 3 losses.
He exemplifies greatness, but also reflects the state of British tennis during his leadership. For Britain to succeed as a national team, he had to consistently excel on the court. When he was defeated, Britain was also defeated.
The recent events in Manchester have shown a significant shift. One prominent aspect has been the impressive depth of talent within the British team, which has grown in the last few years. Many top singles and doubles players have excelled by working together and supporting each other.
Each team member contributed to their success this year. In a challenging February qualifier on clay and at a high altitude in Colombia, Cameron Norrie led the British team with two singles wins. However, in Manchester, Norrie was the only team member who did not win a rubber.
Regardless, all other team members rose to the occasion. Andy Murray and Jack Draper both contributed with tough victories in singles matches from a disadvantage. Neal Skupski displayed impressive skill in two crucial doubles matches, particularly during the chaos on Sunday evening when he and Dan Evans fought off four match points before securing the team’s win against France.
Evans stood out as the top contributor, showcasing his impressive skills and solidifying his late-career success. He has consistently expressed his love for the Davis Cup and has remained a dedicated member of the team for 14 years.
However, he was not always able to achieve victory.
At 33 years old, he spent a significant portion of his career ranked below the top 100 and lacked discipline, resulting in underwhelming performances. However, he has since transformed into a highly skilled top-30 player who excels in both singles and doubles matches, which is both impressive and commendable.
Evans’s accomplishments also demonstrate the significance of the Davis Cup and its ability to reach regions that may not be covered by major tennis tournaments. His aspirations of becoming a pro were solidified by attending multiple Davis Cup matches in Birmingham during his formative years, rather than at Wimbledon.
“I began playing tennis because of the Davis Cup,” Evans said during an interview on Sunday. “I have fond memories of watching matches between America, Portugal, and Thailand in Birmingham, which was one of my first experiences with the sport. While Wimbledon was also a major event, it was not as accessible to me since it was far from where I lived. Playing in the Davis Cup for my country has always been my ultimate goal, and it remains so to this day.”
In the last ten years, Glasgow has been the location for numerous Davis Cup matches in Britain. The LTA made the right decision to focus on Scotland due to the monumental achievements of Andy and Jamie Murray. However, it is surprising that Manchester has not hosted a tie in 29 years.
After being given the chance to host, Manchester rose to the occasion. The 13,000 seats at AO Arena were completely sold out on Sunday, making it the largest crowd in the 123-year history of Great Britain’s Davis Cup. In the stands of the venue, a young player was likely motivated by the British team’s initial struggle and eventual triumph.
On Tuesday afternoon, the Davis Cup will hold a draw for the quarter-finals. Great Britain will have a challenging match in Málaga regardless of their opponent. They may face Serbia, led by Novak Djokovic, or Italy, who have Jannik Sinner and Matteo Berrettini on their team.
British players are finding extra drive during the fall season thanks to the Davis Cup. The last few months of a demanding and tiring year can be challenging, as players may struggle to stay motivated and feel exhausted. However, with the added incentive of the Davis Cup, they are now competing for much more than just themselves.
The skill level of the top four singles players creates a competitive environment where nothing is guaranteed. As the final months approach, each player will be aware that their current form and performance will greatly impact their chances of being on the court in Málaga or supporting from the sidelines.