Great Britain’s Davis Cup semi-final defeat to Argentina, which ended the defence of the title they had won in Belgium last November, consisted of more twists and turns than a rollercoaster designed by a 10-year-old.
After an opening day of competition that saw Andy Murray push himself to the absolute limits in a five-hour epic, before eventually succumbing to Juan Martin del Potro (the longest match of either men’s careers), and Kyle Edmund in falling to Guido Pella, Britain soon found themselves down 2-0 in the best-of-five rubber.
Things looked bleak, with fears that the British title defence would end with more of a whimper than a defiant – if eventually futile – roar.
But roar Britain, or more specifically the Murray brothers, did. With a manic crowd behind them, the starlets of British tennis comfortably saw off the challenge of Argentina’s doubles team to give them the faintest glimmer of hope.
There seemed to be a renewed energy around Glasgow on the final day of competition. Not only did Andy Murray make short work of dispatching Pella, but the Argentinian talisman del Potro was declared unable to play.
Surely this was an opportunity too good for Dan Evans to pass up, who now found himself up against Leonardo Mayer in the final and decisive rubber.
It felt destined to be. It was not.
Despite claiming the opening set, Mayer upped his game and dumped Great Britain out the tournament and booked their place in the final.
After initial heartbreak – increased by the fact that a British victory would have seen them play the final in front of a home crowd – it was time to reflect.
While a loss is never ideal, it was not the end of the world. Rarely is the Davis Cup defended, and it took an inspired performance from del Potro to see off Murray in what turned out to be a crucial opening match.
Last year was their first Davis Cup for 79 years: such an achievement could not have been dreamed of five years ago as the British team languished in the third tier of the tournament.
Credit has to go to not only the Murrays for committing to the event, but also to captain Leon Smith for reinvigorating and encouraging his players.
Britain’s next tie will be against Canada in February, and with Kyle Edmund and Dan Evans both showing increasing maturity and consistency, the future of British tennis looks bright.
No longer, it would seem, is the British game so overly reliant on two brothers from Dunblane to carry the hopes of a nation. A setback it may be, but a look at the bigger picture is perhaps required.
Image courtesy of Marianne Bevis