Inexperienced GB exit Davis Cup despite Norrie brilliance

By Suzanne Oliphant 

Great Britain were defeated by Spain in the first round of the Davis Cup last weekend in Marbella.

Leon Smith’s side were faced with a few challenges during the course of the tie. Andy Murray’s absence due to his ongoing hip injury – which he is currently recovering from after an operation – left the team without their star player while Kyle Edmund was left unable to play due to a hip injury he picked up during his run to the Australian Open semi-finals last month.

As a result, the singles and reverse singles matches fell to Davis Cup debutants Liam Broady and Cameron Norrie. It didn’t look too good at first for GB, Davis Cup champions in 2015, going into the weekend.

On the opening day on Friday, it looked as though Spain would be taking a 2-0 lead into the second day after Liam Broady was defeated in straight sets by Albert Ramos-Viñolas.

However, GB fought back with an unlikely victory from 22 year-old Cameron Norrie who faced world No.23 Roberto Bautista Agut. Despite being two sets down, Norrie, who is ranked 114th in the world, made an impressive comeback and won the match 4-6, 3-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-2, levelling the scores on the opening day.

Norrie told the BBC after the match: “It’s 100% the best day of my career, I managed to pull it together and keep Great Britain in the tie. It gave me a lot of confidence because it was my first match on clay.”

However it wasn’t enough to keep GB in the competition as they failed to win any more of the rubbers throughout the weekend.

Saturday’s doubles gave a clearer picture of GB’s fate. Jamie Murray and Dominic Inglot lost to Feliciano López and Pablo Carreño Busta in three close sets: 6-4, 6-4, 7-6 (7-4). Going into Sunday, Spain now only needed one win out of the possible two matches to go through to the quarter-finals.

There was a glimmer of hope on Sunday that Kyle Edmund would be fit enough to play if Norrie brought the score to an even 2-2. However, it wasn’t to be as despite his efforts and success on the Friday, Norrie was unable to beat world No. 21 Alberto Ramos-Vinolas.

The Spaniard won what turned out to be the deciding match in four sets: 7-6 (7-4), 2-6, 7-6 (7-4), 6-2, bringing GB’s Davis Cup journey to a disappointing end. GB will have to compete in the play-offs in September to remain in the top tier of the competition.

Elsewhere in the Davis Cup, Italy defeated Japan 3-1, meaning Japan will also have to play in the play-offs in September. Germany and reigning champions France have also made it through to the quarter-finals with 3-1 victories over Australia and the Netherlands respectively.

Spain will face Germany in the quarter finals.

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