Great Britain and France face decisive doubles rubber for Davis Cup place
Great Britain must win a deciding doubles rubber against France to keep alive their Davis Cup hopes for this season after Cameron Norrie was beaten by Ugo Humbert in Manchester.
Dan Evans fought back from a set and a break down to see off teenage debutant Arthur Fils 3-6 6-3 6-4 to give Britain the lead in front of a 13,000 sell-out crowd at the AO Arena, a single day record for the competition in this country.
An out-of-form Norrie also battled from behind to force a deciding set against Ugo Humbert but was unable to take it, the Frenchman winning 7-6 (5) 3-6 7-5.
It will therefore come down to the final match of the week to decide who joins Australia in qualifying for the final eight event in Malaga in November.
Team selection has been one of the most intriguing aspects of this week and here it was France springing a surprise by turning to 19-year-old Fils ahead of the experienced Adrian Mannarino, against whom Evans has a great record.
Smith opted for his two highest-ranked singles players, overlooking Jack Draper, who made his own impressive debut in beating Australia’s Thanasi Kokkinakis on Wednesday, and Andy Murray.
Fils is the highest-ranked teenager in the world at 44 and the most exciting of a crop of young French players.
It was immediately clear this was not a comfortable match-up for the 5ft 9in Evans, who struggles to impose his finesse-based game against power hitters, and he was in deep trouble when he was broken for a second successive game at the start of the second set.
Fils had been landing everything but he played a poor game serving at 3-2 to allow Evans back into the contest and from there a combination of the crowd, smart play by the British number two and his opponent’s inexperience turned things around.