Davis Cup finals 2019: Great Britain & Kazakhstan level at 1-1

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Dan Evans
Dan Evans has lost both his singles rubbers at this year’s Davis Cup finals
2019 Davis Cup Finals
Venue: Caja Magica, Madrid Dates: 18-24 November
Coverage: Listen on BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra from Wednesday, 20 November; Live text coverage on selected matches on the BBC Sport website and app. Click here for Live Guide.

Great Britain’s attempt to reach the knockout stage of the inaugural Davis Cup finals will go to a pivotal doubles rubber after Dan Evans lost in three sets to Kazakhstan’s Alexander Bublik.

Jamie Murray and Neal Skupski must win to secure a quarter-final against Germany on Friday in Madrid.

Evans, knowing victory would ensure Britain won Group E, lost 5-7 6-4 6-1.

Kyle Edmund stepped up in Andy Murray’s absence to beat Mikhail Kukushkin 6-3 6-3 earlier.

Former world number one Murray was rested against the Kazakhs as he continues his comeback from hip surgery, but could return to face Group C winners Germany in the last eight – if Britain make it.

Under the new format, led by Barcelona footballer Gerard Pique, the 16 nations are split into six groups of three with the group winners automatically progressing.

The two best runners-ups will also join them, although Britain would not be one of them if they lose to Kazakhstan.

Evans falters as Britain can’t get over the line

Britain made hard work of beating a Netherlands side they were expected to see off more comfortably in their opening group tie on Wednesday, leaving Evans and Edmund needing to deliver in hard-to-call matches against a pair of talented Kazakhs who are well established inside the top 100.

While Edmund earned an impressive win, Evans again faltered from a winning position in a similar fashion to his defeat by top-ranked Dutchman Robin Haase.

Evans, 29, is ranked as Britain’s top male player after a strong season which has seen him climb back into the top 50 and earn main-draw victories at three of the four Grand Slams.

However, another collapse against the talented but erratic Bublik leaves him without a victory in either of his singles rubbers in the Spanish capital.

Bublik, 22, handed the first set over to Evans with a double fault which led to him smashing his racquet on the hard court, yet it was the Kazakh’s bold service game which enabled him draw level.

Evans lost his serve for a 5-4 deficit after a lengthy game which saw Bublik convert his fourth break point, allowing the Kazakh to serve out from 0-30 with the help of aces – on both first and second serves – topping 130mph.

From that point momentum remained with Bublik as confidence drained from Evans in a final set which lasted less than half an hour, the world number 57 breaking three times to leave the colourful Kazakh support delighted.

Edmund rediscovers form to give GB advantage

Kyle Edmund
Kyle Edmund made his Davis Cup debut in the 2015 final against Belgium

Murray’s absence was unsurprising after the Scot laboured to a three-set win over Dutch world number 179 Tallon Griekspoor on Wednesday, which left him admitting he was not as sharp as he would like to be after taking a month off competitive tennis to spend with his new-born son and family.

That placed the pressure on 24-year-old Edmund to perform, at the end of a year in which he struggled for wins and tumbled down the world rankings as a result.

But Edmund, the 2018 Australian Open semi-finalist who has dropped to 69th in the world, outplayed 67th-ranked Kukushkin in a noisy Caja Magica.

Kukushkin was backed about 100 boisterous and colourful fans, armed with drums and a trombone like they were when their women’s team played Britain in the Fed Cup earlier this year.

However, that did not put off Edmund, who himself was well supported by a noisy contingent of Union Jack-waving British supporters, who have travelled to Madrid in their droves.

Edmund showed no signs of the troubles which have plagued him on the ATP Tour this year, hitting 10 aces and 23 winners in a dominant performance.

The Yorkshireman’s explosive forehand – his key weapon – was particularly destructive, helping him take his fourth chance in the decisive break of the first set and save two break points in the following game.

After breaking again for a 4-2 lead in the second set, he took eight of the last nine points to race through the closing stages, converting his first match point when Kukushkin hit a forehand long.

That meant Edmund won in just one hour and 15 minutes, leaving the celebrating British fans dancing in the stands, while finally silencing the Kazakhs.

“The atmosphere has been amazing, I think we have got the most travelling fans so amazing to get so many people coming here from Britain,” Edmund said.

“I couldn’t wait to get out here and it was such a buzz to thrive off the crowd.”

Son Hueng-min
Son Heung-min was left in tears after his challenge resulted in Andre Gomes being injured

Tottenham have appealed against Son Heung-min’s red card for his tackle on Andre Gomes, which led to the Everton midfielder’s horrific ankle injury.

Gomes had surgery on Monday on a fracture dislocation to his right ankle.

Son was distraught when he saw the severity of the injury in Sunday’s Premier League game at Goodison Park.

Referee Martin Atkinson initially showed Son a yellow card before he changed it to red.

TV replays suggested that Gomes suffered the injury after Son’s tackle and before he collided with full-back Serge Aurier.

Explaining Atkinson’s decision, the Premier League said: “The red card for Son was for endangering the safety of a player, which happened as a consequence of his initial challenge.”

Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino said the forward had no intention of injuring Gomes and believed VAR should have been used to overturn the sending off.

“It was clear it was never the intention of Son to create the problem that happened afterwards. It is unbelievable to see a red card,” he said.

If the appeal is not successful, Son will miss Premier League matches against Sheffield United, West Ham and Bournemouth.

Image result for Bulgaria v England: 'Football family' must 'wage war on the racists' says Uefa president

The “football family and governments” need to “wage war on the racists”, says Uefa president Aleksander Ceferin after the abuse of England players by home fans in Bulgaria.

Monday’s Euro 2020 qualifier between the sides was halted twice due to racist abuse of England players.

Ceferin said football associations cannot solve the issues alone.

“Only by working together in the name of decency and honour will we make progress,” he said.

European football’s governing body Uefa has opened disciplinary proceedings against Bulgaria, charging them with the racist behaviour, including Nazi salutes and monkey chants, of their fans.

The disruption of both teams’ national anthems by opposing fans will also be investigated.

Monday night’s scenes have been widely condemned by players and politicians.

The president of the Bulgaria Football Union resigned on Tuesday after being told to quit by the country’s prime minister.

In a statement, Ceferin said Uefa was committed to doing everything it can “to eliminate this disease from football”.

“There were times, not long ago, when the football family thought that the scourge of racism was a distant memory,” Ceferin said.

“The last couple of years have taught us that such thinking was, at best, complacent.

“The rise of nationalism across the continent has fuelled some unacceptable behaviour and some have taken it upon themselves to think that a football crowd is the right place to give voice to their appalling views.”

Football’s world governing body Fifa said going forward it could “extend worldwide” any sanctions by Uefa, or by the other continental confederations, imposed for racist behaviour.

President Gianni Infantino said the sport needed “to think more broadly on what we can do to fix this”.

He called racism in football an “obnoxious disease that seems to be getting even worse in some parts of the world” and said life bans from stadiums should be handed to those found guilty. “Fifa can then enforce such bans at a worldwide level.”

The UK government has written to Uefa to demand more action.

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Uefa statement in full

“There were times, not long ago, when the football family thought that the scourge of racism was a distant memory. The last couple of years have taught us that such thinking was, at best, complacent.

“The rise of nationalism across the continent has fuelled some unacceptable behaviour and some have taken it upon themselves to think that a football crowd is the right place to give voice to their appalling views.

“As a governing body, I know we are not going to win any popularity contests. But some of the views expressed about Uefa’s approach to fighting racism have been a long way off the mark.

“Uefa, in close cooperation with the Fare network (Football Against Racism Europe), instituted the three-stage protocol for identifying and tackling racist behaviour during games.

“Uefa’s sanctions are among the toughest in sport for clubs and associations whose supporters are racist at our matches. The minimum sanction is a partial closure of the stadium – a move which costs the hosts at least hundreds of thousands in lost revenue and attaches a stigma to their supporters.

“Uefa is the only football body to ban a player for ten matches for racist behaviour – the most severe punishment level in the game. Believe me, Uefa is committed to doing everything it can to eliminate this disease from football. We cannot afford to be content with this; we must always strive to strengthen our resolve.

“More broadly, the football family – everyone from administrators to players, coaches and fans – needs to work with governments and NGOs to wage war on the racists and to marginalise their abhorrent views to the fringes of society.

“Football associations themselves cannot solve this problem. Governments too need to do more in this area. Only by working together in the name of decency and honour will we make progress.”

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Uefa also charged Bulgaria with throwing objects and showing replays on a giant screen.

England were also charged with providing an insufficient number of stewards. No date has been set for a hearing.

Bulgaria coach Krasimir Balakov said after the match that he “did not hear” any racist chanting.