It certainly wasn’t in the manner they would have liked, but Great Britain are through to the next round of the Davis Cup after a Canadian player was defaulted for accidentally hitting the umpire with a ball. It was an unfortunate end to what had been a fascinating encounter between the two teams.
The automatic win came during Kyle Edmund’s match, when his opponent, the youngster Denis Shapovalov, ill-advisedly smacked a ball in frustration towards the crowd after a point – only for it to sail into the face of chair umpire Arnaud Gabas.
Fortunately, Gabas is fine, apart from some bruising to his left eye, and Shapovalov has been extremely apologetic about the episode: “Luckily he was okay but obviously it’s unacceptable behaviour from me. I feel incredibly ashamed and embarrassed and I just feel awful for letting my team down, for letting my country down, for acting in a way that I would never want to act.”
When the drama occurred, 17-year-old Shapovalov was trailing Kyle Edmund 6-3, 6-4, 2-1 and had just seen his serve broken by the Brit. The default means that Great Britain took the tie 3-2 – earlier in the day, Vasek Pospisil had bested Dan Evans in a 7-6 (7-3) 6-3 3-6 7-6 (7-5) epic to level the score.
“I thought Kyle was absolutely terrific,” Great Britain captain Leon Smith told the Ottawa Citizen. “He completely bossed the match. It was pretty much one-way traffic and it would have been nice for Kyle to go over the line in a straight-sets win, which it was heading for, and a great performance.
“But, to finish like that. … I feel sorry for Denis. He has learned a harsh lesson. It’s a shame. It’s a shame for the fans that were there. It’s a shame it happened, but he’ll learn, I’m sure.”
The weekend also brought wins for Dan Evans on Friday, against Shapovalov, and doubles duo Murray and Inglot against Pospisil and Nestor on Saturday.
The Great Britain team will now face France away on 7-9 April – and will hope to turn back the clock to 2015, where they beat France in the quarterfinal before bringing home the trophy for the first time in 79 years.