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Page last updated at 12:45 GMT, Friday, 5 March 2010

Defeat for Dan Evans leaves Britain and Lithuania level

Dan Evans shakes hands with Ricardas Berankis
Evans (left) went to five sets for the first time in his career

Dan Evans lost a thrilling five-set match against Ricardas Berankis to leave Britain's Davis Cup tie against Lithuania poised at 1-1 after day one.

Evans, 19, fought hard in a high-quality encounter against a player ranked 52 places above him but lost 6-1 4-6 7-6 3-6 6-3 in Vilnius.

Earlier, James Ward enjoyed a perfect Davis Cup debut as he beat Laurynas Grigelis 6-4 6-2 6-4.

Ken Skupski and Colin Fleming carry Britain's doubles hopes on Saturday.

"I think it was a good today," GB captain John Lloyd told BBC Radio 5 live. "It could even have been better with Dan Evans coming so close but it showed a lot of things today.

"James knew that if he lost his match, the chances were we'd be down 2-0, so it was almost all on him and he came through very, very well.

Fleming and Skupski are a good team and with the opposition facing them we should up 2-1 by tomorrow night

GB captain John Lloyd

"Dan was down a set, was getting absolutely blitzed and could easily have panicked but he dug in and played a fabulous match. So for me it was a good day, I learned a lot about their characters."

Lloyd's side are seeking their first Davis Cup win since September 2007 when they beat Croatia in Tim Henman's last match before retiring.

Since then, despite the efforts of world number four Andy Murray, Britain have lost four ties in a row and now find themselves in Europe/Africa Zone Group II for the first time since 1996.

Murray's decision to skip this tie in order to focus on winning his maiden Grand Slam title left Lloyd with an inexperienced squad, none of whom had tasted victory in a live Davis Cup match.

Ward put that record to bed in Friday's first singles match as he became the first British player apart from Henman, Murray and his part-time coach Greg Rusedski, to win a live singles rubber since Andrew Richardson in 1997.

However, Evans is still without a Davis Cup win.

The 19-year-old lost both his matches against Poland in September in straight sets but he put up a valiant fight against Berankis, who has risen 122 places in the world rankings this year.

"I was disappointed I didn't get the win in the end," Evans told 5 live.

"I think it bodes well for Sunday if I'm needed. I showed the other opponent what I'm about.

"Against Poland, I was a bit overwhelmed it's fair to say, but today I put everything I could on the court and he was a bit better than me."

James Ward
Ward showed few nerves on his Davis Cup debut

The British number four made an awful start, losing the first 6-1, but hit back when the talented but erratic Berankis lost form in the second set.

Evans was then a break up in the third set before eventually losing it on a tie-break, and though he battled back again to ensure he played his first ever fifth set, the Birmingham teenager could not complete what would have been a hugely impressive comeback.

Ward, by contrast, enjoyed a comfortable day at the office as he got Britain off to the perfect start.

On a quick court at the Vitas Gerulaitis Tennis Centre, the 23-year-old showed few signs of nerves - until he came to serve out the first set at 5-4.

The world number 250, ranked 273 places above his 18-year-old opponent, had been serving excellently but three double faults in the game gave Grigelis hope.

606: DEBATE
knowledge is good

Ward wasted a 40-0 lead and then had to save his first break point of the match before eventually taking the set at the sixth opportunity.

The 23-year-old then broke early in the second set before cruising to victory.

"You always need to have a few tight moments - that's what Davis Cup is all about - but I got through it and never looked back after that," Ward told 5 live.

"Greg [Rusedski] has helped me enormously. I can't thank the guy enough.

"I've been working a lot on my serve and first shot after the serve, coming to the net a little bit more. He's been really supportive."

The winner of the tie will face either Ireland or Turkey, with a relegation play-off for the losers.

"I'm looking forward to the doubles," said Lloyd. "Fleming and Skupski are a good team and with the opposition facing them we should be up 2-1 by tomorrow night."



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see also
Lithuania v GB photos
07 Mar 10 |  Tennis
GB's trip into the unknown
23 Sep 09 |  Tennis
GB reveal six-man Davis Cup squad
08 Feb 10 |  Tennis
Murray defends Davis Cup pull-out
03 Jan 10 |  Tennis
GB relegated after Davis Cup loss
20 Sep 09 |  Tennis
British pair win second ATP title
01 Nov 09 |  Tennis


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FROM OTHER SPORT SITES
Mirror.co.uk Britain's tennis future is at stake as Lloyd's kids face up to life without Murray - 1 hr ago
Telegraph Baker blow for British David Cup team - 7 hrs ago
Keep Media John Lloyd feels the fear with inexperienced Davis Cup squad - 8 hrs ago
Sky Sports Baker blow for GB - 12 hrs ago
More than the games Crunch time for British youngsters ahead of Davis Cup tie - 20 hrs ago


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