Dan Evans fails to repeat Davis Cup heroics as Britain trail Belgium
Great Britain's hopes of a shock Davis Cup victory over Belgium are almost over after Dan Evans went down 3-6, 6-4, 7-6, 6-4 to Olivier Rochus to leave the hosts trailing 2-0 at the end of the first day's play at Glasgow's Braehead Arena.
It seemed an almighty task before the start against a country with two top-100 players but Evans’ two victories against significantly higher ranked players in February’s win over Slovakia had made the unlikely seem possible.
At 344 in the world Evans is ranked almost 300 places behind the No59 Rochus but the 21-year-old from Birmingham pushed his experienced opponent all the way and may well have won had he taken the closest of tie-breaks in the third set.
Josh Goodall’s 6-7, 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 defeat by Steve Darcis earlier had set the stage for Evans again to be the hero but Rochus was a step up from either Lukas Lacko or Martin Klizan, his conquests in the Slovakia match.
Evans picked up where he left off, though, coming back from 40-0 to break Rochus in the opening game and then repeating the feat to win the first set with a stunning forehand down the line.
As if to emphasise the quality of Rochus, the 31-year-old has been in the top 100 for the majority of the last 12 years and has won three of his five meetings with the world No1, Novak Djokovic.
The Belgian showed his quality at the start of the second, reeling off four games in a row after Evans missed a chance to break, and, although the home favourite pulled one back straight away, he could not retrieve the second.
Evans was starting to show his frustration, smacking the net when he missed a volley that would have given him a point for 4-4, but he continued to match his opponent in the third set.
A crunch backhand volley saved a rare break point in the fifth game and, when he was finally broken at the fourth attempt to leave Rochus serving for a two sets to one lead, he broke straight back to love.
In truth that was more to do with some tight play from the Belgian but he eventually prevailed in the most tense of tie-breaks.
There was never more than a point between them but Evans could not take advantage of two set points and Rochus took his first after a linesman seemed to change his mind in calling an Evans forehand wide.
It was desperately close but Evans put the disappointment behind him by breaking in the opening game of the fourth set.
Both players looked very weary and sought to shorten the points but that policy cost Evans as a poor volley and netted drop shot gave Rochus the break back for 4-4, two games after he had hit two aces to deny the Belgian.
Evans was now on the brink. He quickly found himself facing two match points at 4-5 and a cramping Rochus took the first when his opponent missed a forehand.
Ross Hutchins and Colin Fleming must now win the doubles rubber to give Britain hope of coming back to win the tie, something they have done only once before from 2-0. That was in 1930 against Germany.
|posted on||April 8, 2012|
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