|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 or Live Guide.|
Dan Evans dug deep to send Great Britain into the semi-finals of the inaugural Davis Cup finals in Madrid with a thrilling win over Germany.
Whether down to a lack of sharpness or something else, his absence again meant Britain were relying on Edmund and Evans to deliver against the Germans.
Both men repaid the faith shown in them by Smith.
Evans’ place had come under particular scrutiny after the British number one lost both of his group-stage matches, despite leading by a set against tricky opponents who upped their levels considerably to overpower him.
After edging the first-set tie-break against a powerful Struff, who is ranked 35th in the world, Evans could not sustain his level as the German won the final four games of the second to force a decider.
For the British fans, it was another sense of deja vu.
But, despite a stark physical disadvantage of seven inches in height and 17 kilograms in weight, Evans refused to be bullied off the court.
He showed remarkable mental strength to stave off two break points at 2-1, then reassert himself as he faced scoreboard pressure by serving when behind before dominating Struff in a one-sided tie-break.
“Dan felt down the past couple of days, but boy did he step up,” Smith told Eurosport.
“He loves playing Davis Cup. We’ll savour this one.”
Edmund steps in to deliver again
Edmund, like he did against Kazakhstan’s Mikhail Kukushkin in Thursday’s must-win group tie, fulfilled his role spectacularly, producing one his finest matches of a year where he has struggled for victories on the ATP Tour.
Despite slipping to 69th in the world, Edmund has rediscovered his most potent weapon – blistering clean forehands – and improved his weaker backhand side at exactly the right time for his country.
The Yorkshireman hit 10 winners, compared to just six unforced errors, in a first set wrapped up in 32 minutes thanks to two breaks of serve and without facing a break point himself.
When 36-year-old Kohlschreiber did take his first chance at the third attempt in the fourth game of the second set, Edmund responded instantly to stop any momentum the German hoped to garner.
Showing a resilience and confidence often lacking this year, Edmund broke back with a forehand winner down the line, seconds after he chose the wrong side with a backhand which allowed the German to return at the net.
Two backhand winners down the line laid the platform for Edmund to break again for 6-5 and the opportunity to serve for the match, a chance he took with a hold to love sealed by a long Kohlschreiber return.
Edmund, usually so placid, revealed the emotions stirred by representing his nation in the Davis Cup by swinging a forearm high into the air after sealing a dominant win, embracing both Smith and Murray courtside before returning to the middle again to soak up the acclaim of the British fans.
While there appeared to be fewer Britons on a half-full court than at the two group ties against the Netherlands and Kazakhstan, those still in the Spanish capital provided sterling vocal support as they outnumbered their German counterparts.
“We have the best away fans here 100%, it feels like a home tie playing here,” Edmund said.
“We appreciate the efforts and we really feel it.”
BBC tennis correspondent Russell Fuller
This was the finest performance of Dan Evans’ Davis Cup career.
He was conceding seven inches in height, and a few weight divisions, to Jan-Lennard Struff, and knew only too well that he had lost his first two matches of the week having won the first set.
Evans had to absorb a lot of pressure early in the deciding set, but gradually subdued the previously free-wheeling Struff, and was by far the stronger in the tie-break.
Evans has now played nine sets of tennis over three days, but assuming there is no adverse reaction, he and Kyle Edmund are set to feature in the semi-final.
That would mean no Andy Murray for a third tie running. But as captain Leon Smith pointed out, Evans and Edmund are making a stronger claim right now.