The British Davis Cup by BNP Paribas team pulled off one of the most remarkable comebacks against Russia in April to put themselves in contention to earn promotion to the top flight of the competition.
Next weekend, Leon Smith’s side will go into battle against Croatia in Umag and the most surprising thing of all is that the visitors will be favourites not because of the return of Wimbledon champion Andy Murray but because of the emergence of a bona fide No. 2 singles player in Dan Evans.
Evans, who burst onto the global tennis scene by defeating Kei Nishikori and Bernard Tomic as a qualifier at the 2013 US Open, is best known to fans of Davis Cup as the man who clinched the tie for the Brits against Russia in Coventry this year.
Now, however, he will have to deal with a very different problem – expectation. Team GB go into the World Group play-off against Croatia full of confidence with a side that, on paper at least, should win comfortably.
The hosts have named just one player inside the Top 100 – Ivan Dodig – and the Brits will be expected to come away from Umag with nothing but the three points required to elevate them back to the top flight of the competition.
Ironically it was against Croatia in 2007 that Team GB last scored a World Group play-off victory – something of which Evans was not even aware.
“I didn’t know that,” said the 23-year-old from Birmingham, who is projected to break into the Top 150 in the world when the rankings are released next week. “But I’m not superstitious. Hopefully we can do it again and get into the World Group, which would be great.”
And when asked what he likes about Davis Cup, Evans replied: “It’s good to be part of a team because you’re never part of a team in day and day out, because you play for yourself, so it’s very nice to win for your teammates and you get a lot of support off them.
“Hopefully I’ll just carry on what I’m doing and we’ll have a good result.”
The undoubted leader of the pack will be two-time Grand Slam champion and Olympic gold medallist Murray.
What does the affable Scot make of his teammate’s recent success?
“For Davis Cup, of course it helps the more guys you have playing well and able to compete with Top 100, Top 50, Top 20 players,” he said. “When we have home ties, on the right surface for him, he can compete with most guys in the world. It will be a good test for him on the clay [of Umag].”
And it seems that the feeling’s mutual among Smith’s men.
Evans added of his countryman: “What’s he doing in tennis is great; everyone should look up to him and respect him.”
Great Britain play Croatia in a World Group play-off on 13-15 September. Play starts at 11am local time (9am GMT) on Friday 13 September.