Davis Cup: Great Britain loses 2-1 against the Netherlands and fails to qualify for the knockout stage

Andy Murray, who inspired Great Britain to victory in the 2015 Davis Cup, was playing his 50th match in the men’s team event
Group stage venues: Bologna, Glasgow, Hamburg and Valencia Dates: September 13-18
Coverage: Live TV coverage of Great Britain’s matches on BBC iPlayer and the BBC Sport website and app, with selected live text commentaries and match reports on the website and app

Great Britain failed to reach the Davis Cup Finals knockout stage after Andy Murray and Joe Salisbury lost the key doubles rubber against the Netherlands.

The Group D tie in Glasgow had been level at 1-1 after Dan Evans won in the singles before Cameron Norrie lost to set up a nail-biting finale.

But Murray and Salisbury lost a thriller 7-6 (7-0) 6-7 (6-8) 6-3 to Wesley Koolhof and Matwe Middelkoop.

Victory puts the Dutch and the United States into November’s next stage.

Leon Smith’s side takes on Kazakhstan on Sunday but neither side can advance, while the Netherlands will meet the United States on Saturday to decide who goes through to the Malaga event as group winner.

A minute’s silence was held again before play started and the tie is being played without the usual music between games, as a mark of respect during the period of national mourning following the death of Queen Elizabeth II.

Doubles defeat seals Britain’s fate

The permutations in this tie were straightforward for the hosts – win or you’re out.

And after British number one Norrie lost 6-4 6-2 to Botic van de Zandschulp in a below-par performance to cancel out number two Evans’ 6-4 6-4 win against Tallon Griekspoor, it all came down to the doubles.

Andy Murray has by far the biggest cheers this week when his name has been announced, with the three-time Grand Slam champion returning to the men’s team tournament for the first time since 2019.

He had spoken of his regret at the “mistake” of skipping the Davis Cup last year and about how he was now ready to help the team this year even if he did not end up playing.

He ended up playing twice but could not rescue the tie.

He and Salisbury broke in the first game of the match and went 3-1 up but were broken to love to allow the Dutch to make it 4-4 and eventually take it to a tie-break, where they did not drop a point.

The Britons may have started to sense things might not go their way when Middelkoop won the most unlikely point in that tie-break, where he had been sprawled across the floor midway through the point only to leap up acrobatically and volley a winner at the net .

But there were still more twists to come as a closely fought second set headed into a seemingly inevitable tie-break.

A series of stunning winners from Murray triggered ovations before complete silence as a smash from Middlekoop brought up match point.

Salisbury held his nerve – and his serve – in style with a booming delivery that Middelkoop could only hit long and the Britons then claimed the set when a Murray shot caught the net in a lucky spot to trigger wild celebrations from their watching team-mates, including a jubilant lap of honor from Evans.

But missed chances at 3-3 and a loose service game from Salisbury in the next game pooped the party as Murray hit wide to hand the Dutch pair a break that left them serving for the match.

Having had to wait 50 minutes since their previous match point they were not about to miss another chance and secured the victory when Murray netted.

“It just sucks, because these matches have come down to a few points and they’ve not gone our way,” Murray told a news conference after what was his 50th Davis Cup rubber.

“I have been fortunate to play a lot of these matches over the years, and, you know, come through them. That hasn’t happened this time around and I feel sad about that, because I think we had the possibility to have a really good run here.”

‘Best’ team fails to deliver on home soil

Great Britain had arrived in Scotland with what they felt was their strongest team ever in terms of depth, boasting three top-50 singles players as well as the world’s top and third-ranked doubles players.

They were beaten 2-1 by the United States on Wednesday in an agonizingly close and draining encounter, with all three matches going to three sets and with play finishing at nearly 01:00 BST.

The Netherlands tie was another quality affair but questions are sure to be asked about whether Leon Smith got his team selections right and why a team that was so strong on paper is not going to be competing for the trophy in Malaga.

The fifth and unused member of the GB team was Neal Skupski, the third best doubles player in the world who was runner-up in the men’s doubles final alongside one of Friday’s Dutch opponents Koolhof.

The player who may be most disappointed with their performance might be Norrie, who looked out of sorts for a large part of his opening match against American Taylor Fritz and even larger parts of this defeat against Van de Zandschulp.

The Briton had beaten the Dutchman 6-1 6-2 just a few weeks ago in Canada but was outplayed by him here, with the world number 35 dominant on serve as he racked up 13 aces and also hit 18 winners to Norrie’s four in a thoroughly deserved win.

“That’s not a player that’s of my ranking, and that’s me on a really bad day,” Norrie said.

“That’s not the level that I have. That’s not the level that I’m capable of. I’m disappointed with that.”

Murray said he was particularly disappointed to have lost in front of home fans, who had chanted, sung and banged their drums throughout the tie, which was being played without its usual music at changeovers out of respect for the period of national mourning.

“We had again really a great atmosphere out there again today. I’ve loved all of the chances I got to play here,” the 35-year-old said.

“And obviously, when you get to sort of my age and this stage of your career, I don’t know how many opportunities I’ll get to still be part of this team.”

Analysis

BBC tennis correspondent Russell Fuller

“It sucks” says Andy Murray, who was left rueing hitting a forehand second-serve return into the net on a break point midway through the deciding set.

After saving two break points at 3-3, the Netherlands then won the final 10 points of the match.

When GB won the Davis Cup in 2015, Murray (with help from brother Jamie in the doubles) contributed 11 of the team’s 12 points.

So what makes this defeat even more frustrating is that British men’s tennis now has genuine strength in depth.

There will be no trip to Malaga in November to contest the knockout stages, and if GB aren’t awarded yet another wildcard for next year’s Finals, they will need to chance their arm in a qualifying tie in February.