Great Britain’s Davis Cup team suffered fifth-set heartbreak twice over to trail Russia 2-0 at the end of the first day’s tennis at Coventry’s Ricoh Arena.
Leon Smith’s side went into the Europe/Africa Zone Group I tie as massive underdogs but almost made the perfect start as Dan Evans pushed world number 67 Dmitry Tursunov all the way before going down 6-4, 6-7 (5/7), 6-4, 5-7, 6-4.
James Ward, British No.1 in the absence of Andy Murray, then looked like he would level the tie when he led by two sets to love against Evgeny Donskoy – but the Russian fought back to win 4-6, 4-6, 7-5, 6-2, 8-6.
Evans is honest enough to admit his failings – not being prepared to sacrifice a social life in the pursuit of the ranking he knows he should be achieving – but offered no guarantees that will change.
He said: “I know why. It’s because I don’t train hard enough and don’t work hard enough day in and day out. I’m obviously pretty bad at my job. It’s up to me, it’s not up to anyone else.”