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Norrie wins to set up Davis Cup decider

Dan Evans could not turn the match around, despite the help of GB captain Leon Smith

Great Britain’s Cameron Norrie dug out victory in his Davis Cup singles match to set up a deciding doubles rubber against the Czech Republic which could seal his team’s quarter-final place.

Norrie’s 6-1 2-6 6-1 victory over Jiri Lehecka means a win for Joe Salisbury and Neal Skupski will put Britain through as group winners.

Salisbury and Skupski play Jiri Vesely and Zdenek Kolar later on Sunday.

Norrie levelled the Group C tie after Dan Evans lost the opening match.

After beating France 2-1 in the best-of-three format on Saturday, Britain know any sort of victory against the Czechs in Innsbruck would guarantee their progress.

A fightback was needed after Evans was beaten 6-2 7-5 by 21-year-old Tomas Machac, who is 118 places below the Briton in the world rankings.

A 3-0 defeat would have meant an early exit for the 2019 semi-finalists and Norrie’s victory kept his country in the battle.

If Salisbury and Skupski lose and Britain are beaten 2-1, they will finish second because the Czech Republic will have a higher percentage of sets won in the 18-nation finals.

Norrie levels after Evans’ defeat gives Britain work to do

Britain’s campaign at the Davis Cup Finals – which sees group ties held in Innsbruck, Turin and Madrid before the semi-finals and final take place in the Spanish capital – was given the perfect platform by a victory for Evans in Saturday’s opening group tie against France.

But the world number 25 could not replicate that performance as he came up against an inspired Machac, who is making his Davis Cup debut this week.

The expression of Evans, one of bemusement and shock, showed his concern after a first set where he was overwhelmed by the athletic Machac’s stunningly high level.

Evans’ frustration boiled over in the first game of the second set, as he broke his racquet by smashing it into the court after being beaten by another passing winner from the Czech.

While that emotional release helped Evans fight off three break points, he still lost his serve in a lengthy game but regained a foothold in the set by taking Machac’s serve in the next game.

Evans pointed to his temple in celebration, illustrating he needed a strong mentality to come through these tough moments.

More resilience was needed to fight off another break point for a 2-1 lead and Evans had the impetus as Machac lost serve for the second straight game.

The trajectory of Evans’ level continued to move upwards until he served for the set at 5-3, spraying two forehands wide and hitting another into the net to gift the break back.

All that momentum which Evans had regained was quickly lost as Machac took control once again, winning the final five games to seal the biggest win by ranking of his career.

Norrie, ranked 12th in the world after a stunning season, looked likely to earn a vital straight-set win as he raced through the first set in 29 minutes.

Hitting at his relentless best, Norrie made just two unforced errors as he broke Lehecka’s serve three times.

There was a complete contrast in the second set, however. Norrie surprisingly started to misfire and it allowed Lehecka to move 5-1 in front before calmly serving out to level.

But the 26-year-old regained control again in the decider, using his experience and belief from a wonderful year to seal victory.

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