Great Britain have been eliminated by Argentina at the semi-final stage of the 2016 Davis Cup in Glasgow. The defending champions, who beat Belgium last November to win their first title in 79 years, bowed out 3-2 after Dan Evans lost a deciding singles rubber to Leonardo Mayer in four sets at a noisy Emirates Arena on Sunday evening (18 September).
Leon Smith's side could have been knocked out yesterday, but the Murray brothers rallied superbly to win the doubles after two disappointing opening defeats. Reigning Wimbledon and Olympic champion Andy, battling fatigue after losing the longest match of his career on day one before being thrown straight back into action 24 hours later, then levelled the tie by brushing aside Guido Pella in straight sets, leaving Britain's hopes in the hands of Evans rather than Kyle Edmund.
Argentina captain Daniel Orsanic made the incredibly risky decision to play star man Juan Martin del Potro in the doubles and that looked likely to backfire when the 2009 US Open winner, still working his way back to peak fitness after an awful two-year spell with injuries, was replaced by Mayer for the pivotal fifth match.
The 29-year-old had slipped to 114th in the ATP rankings due in large part to shoulder trouble, but fought back bravely after dropping the first set to deservedly triumph 4-6, 6-3 6-2, 6-4 in front of a partisan crowd.
"I am very proud of all these players, the ones who aren't here, the coaches," Orsanic told the BBC after victory was confirmed. "We include everyone, there are a lot of people behind this team so today we can celebrate with this Argentinian crowd.
"Leo has played very good Davis Cup matches before. He has that feeling in his body and even though he is out of the top 100 that is not his level. He was a little nervous in the first set but when he found his rhythm he was on top all of the time.
"We had to keep it to ourselves until the last moment so Great Britain were thinking a little bit but we knew from last night that Mayer would play. I believe it will be an honour to play another final but today we will celebrate a semi-final victory."
Argentina have never previously won the Davis Cup, but will now contest their fifth final against Croatia in November. Zeljko Krajan's team, which features world number 11 Marin Cilic, defeated France 3-2 in Zadar earlier today.