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Dan Evans was caught up in a tetchy exchange with Arthur Fils after giving Great Britain an early advantage over France at the Davis Cup. Evans fought back from a set and a break down to beat his teenage opponent in front of a sell-out crowd at the AO Arena in Manchester.
Fils came flying out of the blocks to draw first blood in the opening set, although he was unable to avoid a drop-off as Evans took control in the second. The Brit went on to nail the decisive set to give Britain a 1-0 lead over France, with only a win able to see them through to the final-eight event in November.
A tense exchange took place at the net following Evans’ win over Fils, with the latter refusing to look at his rival during their post-match handshake. Evans appeared to have been caught by surprise and responded by yelling in Fils’ direction as he walked away before celebrating with his team-mates.
The 33-year-old was picked by British captain Leon Smith ahead of the likes of Jack Draper, who beat Thanassi Kokkinakis on Wednesday, and Andy Murray. The decision was obviously the right one, with Evans getting into his groove despite being pegged back in the opening set to register a crucial victory for his country.
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“It was a hard match,” he said in his on-court interview. “I know with the Davis Cup, it’s never simple. It’s an amazing crowd, there’s so many of you here. You got me through playing a set and a break down. It’s everything to me.
“It’s massive. Next match, they’re one-nil down, if you [the fans] can be loud nice and early then that would help. Thank you to you all for coming, it’s amazing. I don’t know what else to say.”
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Evans struggled to impose himself during the early stages of his match against Fils, who is the highest-ranked teenager in the world at No 44. The Brit was not helped by a poor first-serve percentage before he was made to pay when a forehand winner from Fils secured the break at 5-3.
He was in deep trouble when he was broken again early in the second set, prompting an angry response as he slammed his racket down in frustration. Things eventually began to fall into place for Evans, though, with Fils missing a succession of first serves and then a backhand to give his rival the break back.
The latter stayed in contention by saving break points in his next two service games but it was too little, too late as Evans wrapped up the match by making his experience count to claim the spoils for himself.
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