Davis Cup captain Leon Smith lavished praise on Colin Fleming and Ross Hutchins after the doubles pair kept alive Britain’s slim hopes of beating Belgium in Glasgow.
The Anglo-Scottish duo made it three straight victories in the competition by beating Ruben Bemelmans and David Goffin 4-6, 7-5, 6-3, 6-4 at Braehead yesterday to send the hosts into the final day’s singles trailing 2-1.
Honourable defeats for Josh Goodall and Dan Evans in the Europe/Africa Zone Group I tie on Friday had left Britain staring at a first defeat in six under Smith. But, while Belgium were hot favourites to win both those matches, the reverse was true yesterday, with Fleming and Hutchins having established themselves as one of the better doubles pairs in world tennis.
Smith said: “They’re brilliant to have on the team sheet. They’re obviously a team on the way up, they’re the most fantastic guys to be around for the whole squad, they lift everything.
“They’re so professional. You come in at the start of the week and they’re happy to help the singles guys in their play. And they’ve got so much more to come. I think this team is going to grow and grow.”
Bemelmans and Goffin came out firing, breaking Fleming in his first service game and easing through the rest of the set. The British pair were struggling on return in particular but they raised their game in the second and, although Hutchins was broken serving for the set, they managed to break through again in the 12th game to level proceedings.
Their greater doubles experience eventually gave them the edge in sets three and four, although the Belgians made sure it stayed tight right until the end.
Fleming said: “We haven’t played many matches recently so we were maybe a little bit ring rusty, but we were confident we could raise our performance.”
Of Britain’s chances of turning the tie around, Smith said: “It’s still very, very difficult but it’s great that it’s alive going into Sunday.”