Davis Cup drama: Umpire injured by teenager as Yorkshire’s Kyle Edmund helps GB to victory

Umpire Arnaud Gabas, of France, holds ice to his face after being hit in the eye by a ball.

Umpire Arnaud Gabas, of France, holds ice to his face after being hit in the eye by a ball.

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Great Britain won their Davis Cup tie against Canada in dramatic fashion after teenager Denis Shapovalov was defaulted for hitting a ball into the face of umpire Arnaud Gabas.

Shapovalov was trailing Yorkshire’s Kyle Edmund 6-3 6-4 2-1 and had just been broken in the third set when he smashed a ball in anger, which struck Gabas.

Yorkshire's Kyle Edmund.

Yorkshire's Kyle Edmund.

It was clearly not intentional from the 17-year-old Wimbledon junior champion but, with Gabas holding his face in pain, tie referee Brian Earley had no choice but to rule a default and leave Britain the victors.

There were boos from the crowd at the TD Place Arena, who had earlier roared Vasek Pospisil to a 7-6 (7/3) 6-4 3-6 7-6 (7/5) victory over Dan Evans that set up the deciding rubber.

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Beverley’s Edmund said: “It was a strange way to finish. I’ve never been part of something like that. I was pleased how I was going about processes of the match, I improved a lot from the last match.

“On paper I had an advantage but you don’t play on paper, you play on a hard court. Anything can happen in the Davis Cup so I’m very pleased.”

Stand-in British No 1 Evans went into his clash as the favourite on both form and ranking – 45 to 133 – while Pospisil was publicly wavering about whether to play on Saturday evening because of a knee problem.

But the super-fast court played to his strengths – he served 25 aces and hit 36 forehand winners – and in the end he overpowered his smaller opponent.

Pospisil leapt high and threw his racket in the air at the moment of victory, and he said: “It feels incredible. That was definitely the loudest atmosphere that I’ve played in ever.”

The result will be a big disappointment for Evans, who came into the tie in the form of his life after reaching the fourth round of the Australian Open.

This could have been Milos Raonic against Andy Murray but what the match lacked in star power it more than made up for in drama.

Pospisil has plummeted down the rankings from a high of 25 in 2014, winning just 10 tour-level matches in 13 months prior to this tie.

But the 26-year-old still represented Canada’s big chance, with his potential replacement Peter Polansky inexperienced at this level.

The strapping on his knee had grown overnight and he made a tentative start.

Had Evans taken one of two chances for a double-break lead at 3-1 in the opening set, 
things may have turned out differently.

But he did not, Pospisil fed off the crowd to level at 3-3 and grew in confidence from there.

The Canadian had been bullish about his chances ahead of the clash, claiming the match was on his racket, and he backed it up on the court.

Evans was driven further and further behind the baseline by Pospisil’s fierce serve and forehand and could find no way to change the momentum.

Pospisil played a high-quality tie-break and then blasted another forehand winner to break for 2-1 in the second set.

Although Evans found a fine angled backhand of his own to hit straight back, Pospisil pounced on his serve again for a third straight break.

Evans appeared irritated by shouts from the Canadian bench and exchanged words with the umpire but most of his frustration was directed at his opponent.

Three times he had 0-30, and eventually two break points when Pospisil served for the set, but each time the Canadian used his big weapon to snuff out the chances. Evans had never come back to win a match from two sets down, and his hopes took another blow when he dropped serve again early in the third.

But Pospisil finally showed that he was, after all, a player lacking confidence as the surety of his strokes began to crumble.

A double fault gave Evans the break back and, when Pospisil finally won another game, he was already a break down in the fourth set.

Evans had chances to make that a double break but, as in the opening set, Pospisil resisted well and then rediscovered his missing spark as he levelled at 3-3. Only a stunning backhand volley from Evans denied him the chance to serve for the match, and the Birmingham player led 4-2 in the tie-break.

But the final twist was a run of four points in a row for Pospisil, who then clinched victory on his second match point when Evans’s return sailed wide.

“It’s just disappointing I had the lead in the first and fourth sets and didn’t close those sets,” said Evans.

On Saturday, Dom Inglot helped Jamie Murray defeat Daniel Nestor and Vasek Pospisil 7-6 (7/1) 6-7 (3/7) 7-6 (7/3) 6-3 to put GB 2-1 up ahead of Sunday’s reverse singles.

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