Davis Cup 2012: Great Britain lead Slovakia 2-1 ahead of final day
Colin Fleming and Ross Hutchins beat Filip Polasek and Michal Mertinak in four sets to give Great Britain a 2-1 lead in Glasgow
The British Davis Cup team have a great opportunity to qualify from their Group I tie with Slovakia after Colin Fleming and Ross Hutchins edged them 2-1 in front by claiming a 6-3 7-6 0-6 6-3 win over Filip Polasek and Michal Mertinak in Glasgow.
Expectations of Fleming and Hutchins are at an all-time high following a hugely successful 2011 season, in which they reached the quarter-finals of both Wimbledon and the US Open – and they did not disappoint the home crowd at Braehead Arena by grinding out a crucial win.
Fleming said: “We’re happy with the win, that’s what today was all about. It helped that we played them at home and got a great support.
“You feel like you’re doing it for a team and for the whole crowd behind you and that brings its own pressures but a special feeling as well.”
Unlike their opponents, the Slovakians are not a regular doubles pairing on the tour and lacked the same familiarity – and it showed as the Brits took the early initiative by breaking to lead 4-2.
Fleming and Hutchins both faced break points on their serves but they held firm and took the opener 6-3.
The second set was dominated by the servers, with no break chances for either side as it went to a tiebreak. The Brits raced to a 4-1 lead, but a backhand winner from Mertinak and a couple of missed volley chances brought it back to 4-4.
Fleming and Hutchins quickly regained control, rattling off three quick points to clinch a two sets to love advantage.
Slovakia certainly gave the Brits something to think about as they turned on the style in the third, breaking Hutchins’ serve in the first game and then racing to the set 6-0.
They forced three break points in the opening game of the fourth set as the Brits looked shaky – but a couple of gutsy points at the net allowed the home pair to hang on.
The crucial break in the fourth came after Ross Hutchins emphatically smashed over Polasek’s head and then Mertinak netted a volley to hand a 4-2 advantage to the Brits.
Tension hung over the Glasgow crowd as the home pair closed out the match but Ross Hutchins showed no such nerves as he served out comfortably, finishing with an ace.
Great Britain are now only one win away from qualifying for the next round. The tie resumes on Sunday with James Ward taking on Lukas Lacko in the first match and Friday’s hero Dan Evans facing Martin Klizan in the second.
British team captain Leon Smith said: “They [Slovakia] are favourites, the rankings don’t really lie. But we saw on Friday that upsets can happen and it could happen again.
“I don’t think people would have thought that we had a great chance in this tie without Andy [Murray] and suddenly we’re sitting at 2-1 with a chance.”