Evans stars in GB triumph
Klizan battles back from two sets down but Brit hits back to win
Last Updated: 12/02/12 7:01pm
Dan Evans: Got the job done for Great Britain
Great Britain beat Slovakia 3-2 in the Davis Cup Euro-Africa Zone Group I tie in Glasgow on a thrilling final day at the Braehead Arena.
Dan Evans beat Martin Klizan 6-1 6-1 4-6 3-6 6-3 in a rollercoaster of a deciding rubber in front of an ecstatic home crowd.
The visitors were favourites going into the tie but Evans, ranked 276th in the world, got Britain off to a superb start by beating Lukas Lacko on Friday and then completed the job on Sunday.
The victory means Britain will play Belgium back at Braehead in April for a place in the World Group play-offs.
Evans had played two Davis Cup ties prior to this weekend, been involved in deciding rubbers both times and lost them both, once to Poland in 2009 and then Lithuania two years ago.
Klizan had looked very solid in beating Ward in the second rubber but Evans simply blew him off court for two sets.
The backhand slice and volley, which had so bamboozled Lacko on Friday, were again major weapons, but so were the Evans serve and forehand, and Klizan quickly looked something of a forlorn figure.
The British number five won the first five games and missed two chances to clinch a love set before wrapping it up on his own serve.
The crowd could not quite believe what they were witnessing but Evans simply continued to batter his frustrated opponent, reeling off another four games in a row and then clinching the set with a break to love when Klizan netted a backhand.
He had another chance at the start of the third but this time the Slovakian hung on, and for the first time in the match Klizan began to apply consistent pressure to the Evans serve, securing his first break to lead 5-4.
Perhaps thoughts of the finish line had begun to affect the 21-year-old and, although he created three chances to retrieve the break, he could not take them and Klizan pulled a set back.
The world number 120 was looking much more solid now, not giving Evans the free points he had been and making the home player force the pace, and he broke immediately at the start of the fourth set.
Evans stopped the rot at five successive games but he was now firmly on the back foot and the match was all square when Klizan broke again to make it two sets all.
For the first time the Slovakian looked favourite but Evans was not finished and produced a brilliant forehand winner to move 2-1 ahead - his first break since the second set.
The 21-year-old showed terrific courage to save a break point in the sixth game and when Klizan served to stay in the match for the first time at 3-5 he crumbled, serving a double fault to hand Evans a remarkable victory.
The hosts entered the final day of the match leading 2-1 but Slovakia levelled after James Ward was beaten 7-6 (11/9) 6-1 6-3 by Lukas Lacko.
Lacko, who reached the final of the ATP World Tour event in Zagreb last week, was certainly below his best but raised his level to prevail in straight-sets.
The flat hitting of Ward compared to Evans' use of spin and slice seemed likely to suit Lacko better but there was nothing to choose between the pair in the tightest of first sets.
Ward, ranked almost 100 places below his opponent, traded shot for shot as serve dominated and it took 20 points of an epic tie-break before Lacko finally prevailed.
Three times the Londoner saved set points, once with a forehand that must have caught the very edge of the line, but he miscued a backhand on his only chance and when Lacko moved ahead again Ward netted a forehand.
The danger after losing such a close battle is the disappointment is carried into the next set, and that is exactly what happened as Ward began to throw in errors and promptly lost five games in a row.
He saved the first two set points to at least avoid a love set but Lacko was looking very at home on the court and it was no surprise when he broke again to lead 2-1 in the third set.
Ward, who did not manage a single break point all match, tried his best to hang in the contest, saving two match points at 5-3, the first with a thumping forehand winner down the line, but it all ended rather forlornly with a double fault on the third chance.