Great Britain contest their final round robin match at the ATP Cup on Tuesday when they take on Moldova in Sydney.
The Brits still have a chance of winning Group C, but they can also qualify as one of the best second placed teams. Tim Henman’s men teetered on the brink of elimination in their last match against Belgium after Cameron Norrie lost to Steve Darcis, but Daniel Evans dragged them level before Joe Salisbury and Jamie Murray clinched the deciding doubles tie to complete a 2-1 victory and keep the Brits’ hopes alive.
Great Britain had suffered a 2-1 defeat to Bulgaria in their opening match, but they rebounded with victory over Belgium, and now go in as favourites to defeat winless Moldova in their final group match.
Rubber 1: Cameron Norrie (GBR) vs Alexander Cozbinov (MOL), live from Sydney from 10:00am local time/ 11:00pm GMT
Cameron Norrie will attempt to bounce back from his disappointing loss to Steve Darcis when he takes on Moldovan, Alexander Cozbinov in the opening rubber of the tie.
It has been a mixed tournament for Norrie, who opened with a 6-3 2-6 6-3 victory over Bulgaria’s Dimitar Kuzmanov, but was well beaten by Belgium’s Darcis in his second match. Norrie was a distant second best against Darcis, dropping his serve four times against the 200th-ranked Belgian. The 24-year-old has now failed to win back-to-back matches since he made the semi-finals in Atlanta last July.
Norrie had made a strong start to 2019, reaching a maiden career final in Auckland, but he was generally inconsistent through the rest of the season. He was a semi-finalist in Acapulco and Atlanta, but he also suffered 12 opening round exits through the course of the year. Norrie did manage to break into the top-50 last year, peaking at No. 41, while he ended the season at 53rd on the ATP rankings.
He will hope to get Team GB off to a winning start when he faces Moldova’s Alexander Cozbinov on Tuesday.
24-year-old Cozbinov had not played a tour-level match prior to the ATP Cup, but he has acquitted himself fairly well in Australia, despite losing his two round robin matches.
The Moldovan pushed Steve Darcis all the way in his opening match before succumbing to a three-hour 6-4 6-7 7-5 defeat, and then lost 6-1 7-5 to Bulgaria’s Dimitar Kuzmanov in his second group match.
He played just one Challenger main draw match last season- an opening round defeat to Alexander Ritschard in Las Vegas- and plugged away mainly on the ITF circuit, winning a title at an M15 meet in Pittsburg.
Cozbinov is currently at a career-high ranking of 816, a lowly ranking that suggests that he shouldn’t cause top-100 player Norrie much trouble on Tuesday, but given the way he’s played this week, and Norrie’s dodgy form, this could get complicated for the Brit. Still, you’d expect the world No. 52 to come through and give his country the lead.
Rubber 2: Daniel Evans vs Radu Albot, live from Sydney from 11:30am local time/ 12:30am GMT
Daniel Evans will attempt to claim a third consecutive victory over Radu Albot when he faces the Moldovan in Sydney on Tuesday.
Evans will be looking to reproduce his inspired performance against Belgium’s David Goffin, when he pulled off a terrific 6-4 6-4 victory in his second group match. The British No. 1 had fallen in three sets to Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov in his opening match, but with his country staring down the barrel of an early exit in Australia, the 29-year-old raised his game to stun Goffin and keep Britain alive.
Joe Salisbury and Jamie Murray would later complete the comeback win with victory in the doubles rubber.
“I felt the level was good out there, I’d say one of the highest levels I’ve played. It felt that way, and obviously it made it pretty sweet to have everyone there behind. And in this new format, I think it’s a pretty good way to play having the seats behind in the corners,” Evans said. “It’s pretty cool. It definitely helped to get me through the match.”
The Brit looked on course for a much more comfortable victory when he raced to a 6-4 4-0 lead, but Goffin refused to go away, getting one of the breaks back, and threatening to break again as Evans served for the match at 5-4 in the second set. The British No. 1 fended off a break point, and finally converted on his fifth match point to complete a brilliant win.
The world No. 42 will hope to perform at a similar level when he takes on Albot on Tuesday.
The 46th-ranked Albot is yet to win a set in this tournament, but to be fair, he has come up against some high quality opposition. The 30-year-old fell 6-4 6-1 to David Goffin, before losing 6-3 6-2 to the in-form former world No. 3, Grigor Dimitrov.
Albot enjoyed a fine 2019, claiming his first career title at Delray Beach (beat Daniel Evans), and breaking into the top 40 for the first time. He also made semi-finals in Montpellier, Geneva and Los Cabos, while he reached the third round at Masters 1000 meets at Indian Wells and Paris.
Things have not gone his way at the start of 2020, but he will get the chance to sign off on a high when he faces Evans on Tuesday.
Both men have met on three previous occasions, all of those encounters in 2019. Albot won their first meeting in a tight Delray Beach final (7-6 in the third), but Evans responded with victories in Eastbourne and Atlanta. Can the Brit make it three in a row on Tuesday?
Rubber 3: Jamie Murray/ Joe Salisbury (GBR) vs Radu Albot/ Alexander Cozbinov (MOL), to follow after suitable rest
Great Britain will almost certainly retain Jamie Murray and Joe Salisbury for the doubles rubber following their big win over Belgium on Sunday. Should this tie come down to the doubles, the British pair will definitely start as firm favourites to clinch victory for their country.