Great Britain suffered a premature end to their Davis Cup campaign with a hugely disappointing loss to the Netherlands in Glasgow.
Loss to the United States on Wednesday had forced Britain to beat the Dutch and likely Kazakhstan as well, but Sunday’s game will now be a meaningless game after Andy Murray and Joe Salisbury again came out of trouble side of a deciding doubles match.
Instead, it is the Dutch, with their small group of orange-clad supporters, and the Americans who can celebrate their progress to the round of 16 in Malaga in November after two wins each in their first two matches.
Great Britain had to pick themselves up after being edged out by the United States very late on Wednesday night, and they got off to a perfect start when Dan Evans beat Tallon Griekspoor 6-4 6-4.
But Cameron Norrie then produced a poor performance to go down 6-4 6-2 to Botic Van De Zandschulp, and Murray and Salisbury were beaten 7-6(0) 6-7(6) 6-3 by Wesley Koolhof and Matwe Middelkoop. despite the Emirates Stadium crowd’s best efforts to beat their home hero in their 50th Davis Cup game.
Murray was again endorsed by Neal Skupski, who reached the men’s doubles final with Koolhof at the US Open last week, and he and Salisbury got off to a great start with a break from Middelkoop’s serve in the match. opening.
But they couldn’t keep the advantage and the Dutch pair played an inspired first tie-break.
The second tie-break was full of drama, with Great Britain saving a match point and then taking their first set point through a useful net cord.
The players, team and supporters celebrated happily but they still had to win the decider and, after missing chances at 3-3, Salisbury lost serve in the following match, leaving Koolhof to serve out the win.
Captain Leon Smith has never had a greater force in depth at his disposal, but with that come selection dilemmas and he will have to reflect on what is the most disappointing week of his long and highly successful captaincy, in particular given Britain’s home advantage.
They are to hold a group stage within the next four years, but only if they qualify among the top 16 nations, which will likely mean winning a play-off in early 2023 as they certainly cannot expect another joker.
Norrie battled his way to victory over Taylor Fritz on Wednesday, but this time couldn’t recover from a poor start against a player he easily beat in Montreal last month.
The world number eight struggled to find his game on the slow-moving Glasgow court and was second best against Van De Zandschulp, who served 13 aces.
Norrie said: “He was better than me. I just offered him two service games. He didn’t really have to do much to break me in the end. He’s not a player in my ranking, and that’s me having a very bad day.
“I was really impressed with Botic and his level. Especially the last time we played, I played a very clean game on my serve and I gave him absolutely nothing. He did that to me today. today.”
Evans, who lost a high quality clash to American Tommy Paul, didn’t have it all his way against Griekspoor but played a very solid game, breaking serve once in each set.
The British number two said: “It was a good game. I played well. More of a focus game to really get through, to get a win.
“I knew I was obviously playing better than him, the highest ranked player in the game. I just had to put my game on the pitch, make sure I was focused at the right times and put the pressure on him.”
Elsewhere, Carlos Alcaraz’s first game as world number one in Spain’s draw with Canada in Valencia ended in a three-set loss to Felix Auger-Aliassime.
The 19-year-old has kept his commitment to play at home despite only winning his maiden Grand Slam title at the US Open five days ago.
Australia and Germany advanced in Hamburg thanks to the hosts’ victory over Belgium, while Italy are in pole position in Group A after beating Argentina.