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Great Britain through to World Group play-offs

ESPN staff
April 7, 2013 « Pearson does not break foot | Chartbeat test »

Great Britain have reached the Davis Cup World Group play-offs after defeating Russia in their Euro/Africa Group One tie at the Ricoh Arena.

After losing both singles' rubbers on Friday, Great Britain trailing at 2-0 kept the tie alive on Saturday by winning the doubles match. And on Sunday, James Ward and Dan Evans - both ranked outside of the top 200 in the world - emerged victorious to overcome the Russians.

Captain Leon Smith was without his star man Andy Murray for the encounter, and the draw for the play-offs will take place on April 10. "Thank you everybody for the great support. It just shows you that anything is possible. At the end of the day it was just two outstanding performances," a delighted Smith said after Evans had clinched victory.

With Ward beating Dmitry Tursunov in five sets earlier in the day, Great Britain's hopes were pinned on Evans, and the 22-year-old did not disappoint after defeating Evgeny Donskoy 6-4 6-4 6-1.

After enduring a difficult Friday when Tursunov beat Evans and Donskoy defeated Ward, Great Britain were facing the prospect of losing the tie without heading into the final day. However, Colin Fleming and debutant Jonny Marray's win in the doubles to ensure a showdown on Sunday.

Ward had to win to keep Britain's hopes alive, and he started well, holding strongly on his serve and applying pressure to Tursunov. The Russian was equally resilient as the first set soon became tied at 4-4.

However, Ward's persistence paid off as his opponent netted the ball and allowed the break. The British No. 2 then served out to take the opening set.

The second set proved to be a similarly tight affair, with Ward missing break point in the first game as Tursunov served a 137mph ace to hold. Each player continued to put pressure on the opposing serve and both successfully defended a break despite being 0-30 down as nothing looked to separate the pair.

For the second time in the match, a set would hinge on an unforced error; this time it was Ward who netted a forehand, Tursunov taking the second set and levelling up.

An immediate break gave Ward the impetus at the start of the third set, but he could not capitalise as Tursunov responded to level before seizing the momentum with another break to lead 5-2. Ward battled back to win three consecutive games and draw level but the Russian finished the last of three set points to lead.

Two double faults from Tursunov allowed an early break for Ward in the fourth, and the Russian was soon in hot water with the umpire when given a code violation for un-sportsmanlike behaviour. Tursunov's misery was further compounded as Ward broke serve again and take the match into a deciding fifth set.

And it was Ward who capitalised, taking advantage of another Tursunov double fault to break in the final set before serving out for the match.

Elsewhere, Lukas Rosol defeated Kazakhstan's Evgeny Korolev 7-6(5) 6-7(2) 7-6(5) 6-2 to put defending champions Czech Republic into the semi-finals. The victory means the Czech Republic become the sixth nation to hold the No. 1 spot on the Davis Cup Nations rankings.

Argentina knocked out France in a decider as Carlos Berlocq beat Gilles Simon in four sets. World No. 8 Jo Wilfried-Tsonga forced a final rubber after beating Juan Monaco 6-3 6-3 6-0, but despite his efforts France could not seal a semi-final spot, and Argentina will take on the Czech Republic in a repeat of their last-four clash from a year ago. Serbia also progressed to the semi-finals as world No. 1 Novak Djokovic beat Sam Querrey in four sets to guide his country past USA.

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