Simon Reed

Where were the Slovaks? But frankly, who cares…

Simon Reed

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It may have been a strangely indifferent display from Slovakia but Great Britain, and Dan Evans in particular, were inspired as they won their tie at the Braehead Arena.

As I said in my blog last week, Britain knew that it would be a huge challenge against Slovakia, but Leon Smith's side proceeded to stage one of the biggest upsets of recent years.

Inexplicably, world number 65 Lukas Lacko simply failed to turn up, and he let his team down badly with a very subdued, nervy display against Evans.

Lacko is an enigma at the best of times, but I was astounded at his limp, lethargic showing over the weekend - it was extremely poor and he was clearly riddled with nerves.

But Slovakia's insipid performance should not take anything away from Britain, and the quite brilliant double from world number 273 Evans.

Who knows what these victories will do for Evans in the wider context of his career?

To beat both Lacko and Martin Klizan - a player fully 156 places above him in the world rankings - was quite inspired and this could be the making of Evans.

Twice previously Evans had headed in to contest the final rubber of a Davis Cup tie with the match in the balance at two points apiece, but both times - against Poland and Lithuania - he fell well short. This was quite different, and his recent maturity was there for all to see.

Credit must go to Smith, who picked Evans on form despite him being Britain's number five behind Andy Murray, James Ward, James Baker and Josh Goodall.

With Murray off training with Ivan Lendl in Miami, it was generally considered unlikely that Britain would muster even two victories with a doubles win all but assured.

But, while Ward disappointed with a horribly off-colour showing, Evans thrived with all the attention and support at the Braehead and claimed a stunning win.

The big question is now: how far can Evans go in terms of the world rankings?

I do not think Evans is capable of finding a spot in the top 60, but he really should be a top-100 player if he can keep his consistency.

Despite being a relatively diminutive man, the 21-year-old has a very fine game and a good temperament - as he proved so emphatically over the weekend.

With Murray set to return for future clashes if his schedule allows it, Britain's Davis Cup team have a bright future ahead.

Although it would not have been believed prior to the weekend, Ward will have to be the player to drop out of the team if and when Murray returns.

It is well known that Evans's work ethic has not been what it could have been in the past, but there is no reason why he cannot put that right, if he hasn't already.

He has a wonderful all-round game with a solid temperament, and Smith is clearly getting the best out of him along with his regular coach Julien Hoferlin.

Smith continues to prove that he is a very intelligent coach and an effective man-motivator. The players clearly want to perform for him, and he has generated a superb team spirit.

The victory, Smith's fifth in a row since taking over the captaincy from John Lloyd two years ago, means Britain will now play Belgium at Braehead in April for a place in the World Group play-offs.

Britain have finally found themselves in an encouraging run of form, and Smith's side continue to impress and to surprise.

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