Davis Cup: James Ward and Dan Evans gave Great Britain victory over Russia
Last Updated: 08/04/13 7:07am
James Ward and Dan Evans won their singles matches to deliver a 3-2 victory for Great Britain over Russia in the Davis Cup.
It is the first time in 83 years that a British side has come back from a 2-0 deficit as Ward and Evans thrilled a partizan crowd at Coventry's Ricoh Arena.
The pair had been on the wrong end of five-set defeats on Friday but Colin Fleming and Jonny Marray kept the tie alive with victory in the doubles on Saturday.
Ward then levelled the match with a five-set win over Dmitry Tursunov before Evans crushed Evgeny Donskoy 6-4 6-4 6-1 to secure victory and set up a chance to return to the World Group later this year.
Ward, ranked 214th to Tursunov's 67th, began brilliantly but let chances slip away in the second set and it looked a seriously uphill task when Tursunov won the third as well.
But the Russian let his opponent back in and Ward, British number one in the absence of Andy Murray, took his chance superbly, clinching a 6-4 5-7 5-7 6-4 6-4 victory after exactly three and a half hours.
He clinched the first break of the match in the ninth game and served out the set to love, but missed two chances to break at 5-5 in the second and Tursunov capitalised by breaking to level the match.
The Briton broke at the start of the third but then dropped his serve twice as the Russian moved into a 5-2 lead before another break earned him the set.
Britain's hopes were hanging by a thread but the former Queen's semi-finalist levelled the match with a single break in the fourth set as his heavy serve started to hold up better.
The decisive break came in the fifth game of the deciding set following an epic rally, and although Ward came under pressure serving at 4-3 he held and then grabbed the victory by sending down an ace with his first match point.
"It would have been very tough to take two five-set losses in a weekend, but it could have happened," he said.
"I was two sets to one down against a guy who's been 20 in the world. If anything it's even more pleasing beating Tursunov. He's been a bit of a bogey man for me."
Evans, ranked 325, dominated world number 80 Donskoy virtually from the off and clinched a quite remarkable 6-4 6-4 6-1 victory inside two hours.
The British team celebrated as one on the court and, three years after a loss to Lithuania almost relegated them to Europe/Africa Group III, they stand on the brink of a return to the world's elite nations.
The British No 6 played miles above his ranking and broke to lead 4-3 before serving out the opening set.
He moved ahead early in the second only for Donskoy to break back, and then Evans had to save two more break points in his next service game.
It proved pivotal as the Russian was broken at 4-4 before Evans served it out once again before storming through the third set after taking the first 11 points.