A week after Andy Murray’s Wimbledon triumph, British tennis found another hero as Kyle Edmund led the defending Davis Cup champions to victory over Serbia and into the semi-finals.
The 21-year-old was given the responsibility of being Britain’s number one player in only his second tie after Murray pulled out – although the Scot did travel to Belgrade to support his team.
Edmund secured his first win in the competition in impressive fashion against Janko Tipsarevic on Friday and, after Jamie Murray and Dom Inglot put Britain 2-1 up on Saturday, found himself in the position of trying to win the tie. He played superbly against his fellow stand-in number one Dusan Lajovic, overcoming a wobble with the finish line in sight to win 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 (7/5).
The result ended up as 3-2 to Britain after Tipsarevic defeated James Ward 6-2, 3-6, 7-5 in the dead rubber.
The victory extended Britain’s winning run in the competition to six ties and set up a semi-final against Argentina in September, probably in Glasgow.
Andy Murray is very likely to return for that one, making Britain firm favourites to reach the final once again.
Edmund said: “It’s definitely a very proud moment. Friday was a really nice thing to do. I was really pleased with that.
“But it’s one thing winning and then losing the other one. To win twice feels good away from home, so I’m very proud. I’ve been at a lot of ties, on the bench, hitting. It’s nice to feel like I did it for the team. Growing up you watch tennis and you think of these moments, what it would be like to win for Great Britain and it’s nice to be able to do that.”
Britain had not won a tie at World Group level without Andy Murray since 1986 and to do so away from home on clay, albeit against a Serbia team missing Novak Djokovic and Viktor Troicki, was another hugely impressive achievement for Leon Smith’s men. And to know they now have a player besides Murray who could potentially win plenty more singles rubbers at this level is also highly significant.
Smith, pictured, heaped praise on Edmund, saying: “He’s worked really, really hard to get to this stage. I’m just immensely proud, but he should be really proud of himself and the team that works with him as well because he’s improved so much physically.
“A lot of his game has improved so much. His backhand is rock solid now, serve is getting better all the time and his forehand is just so huge. It’s such a great shot.
“And the good thing for Kyle, he won’t mind me saying that, is there’s a whole heap of stuff that he’s going to get better at. That’s why I think he’s just going to keep kicking on and every year he’s just going to get better and better.”
Argentina reached the semi-finals for the 11th time in 15 years after Federico Delbonis clinched a 3-1 advantage for the South Americans in Italy.
Delbonis withstood a fightback from Italy’s Fabio Fognini in the fourth rubber to win 6-4, 7-5, 3-6, 7-5 in just over three and a half hours in Pesaro.
France will play either USA or Croatia in the other semi-final after securing a 3-1 lead against the Czech Republic in Trinec.
World No 10 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga made amends for his defeat to Lukas Rosol in Friday’s opening rubber by defeating Jiri Vesely 4-6, 7-6 (7/3), 6-4, 7-5 in three hours and 28 minutes to clinch France an unassailable lead.
Meanwhile, British No 4 Dan Evans has turned down the chance to represent Britain at the Olympics.
The 26-year-old was the next in line following Tomas Berdych’s withdrawal on Saturday but, given the late notice and the lack of ranking points on offer, has opted to stick to his planned schedule.