Britain are 2-0 down to France after Dan Evans was beaten
The 6-2, 6-3, 6-3 win for the world no. 68 Chardy took just 1 hour 50 mins as the British no. 2 struggled to find his feet on a surface he has not competed on at any sort of level for over two years.
Kyle Edmund’s defeat earlier in the day means that unless Jamie Murray and Dominic Inglot can win in the doubles tomorrow, the tie will be over a day early, the first time that has happened since Josh Goodall, Chris Eaton, Colin Fleming and Ross Hutchins lost to Ukraine in 2009, the year before Smith took over as captain.
Additionally, the match against Chardy equalled the worst ever Davis Cup rubber of Dan Evans’ career, matching the 6-3, 6-2, 6-3 thrashing handed him in 2013 by Ivan Dodig of Croatia.
On the flip side, it is credit to France captain Yannick Noah for making the brave decision to pick Chardy ahead of the more experienced and higher-ranked Gilles Simon.
Jeremy Chardy beat Evans in straight sets
Noah put the selection down to the 30-year-old’s performances in practice and from the opening exchanges Chardy looked like a player well into his clay-court season.
He had not been part of the France Davis Cup team since 2011 but quickly made it clear he was happy to make up for lost time, rattling up a 3-0 lead within 10 minutes.
Evans leaked more break points in a longer fourth game, eventually succumbing to the fourth. And from his testy reaction to every crowd interruption, he clearly was not enjoying himself at all.
Out of nowhere, a brilliantly-disguised drop shot played from shoulder height seemed to give him confidence and not only did Evans go on to open his account, but he retrieved one of those breaks in the very next game.
It was little more than a brief flurry – Evans was beaten by a superb backhand return to lose the set and it looked like it was going to take more than a change of shirt to get this tie back on track.
Sun, July 10, 2016
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Andy Murray kisses the championship trophy following his win over Milos Raonic of Canada in the men's singles final of the Wimbledon Championships
Evans managed to hold his first two service games of the second set and was then unceremoniously broken to love as Chardy seized on any weakness. The Frenchman was able to hit too many of the winners that seemed outside Evans’ clay repertoire.
Another instant break at the start of the third set sounded the death knell for Evans and the code violation he received for punching his racket during the following game was all that he was ever going to take from this match.
Shouting sporadically towards his team-mates sat watching at the side of the court, Evans was finally put out of his misery with one final break – secured when he could only volley into the net.
It is just 17 months since GB won the Davis Cup on clay in Belgium – albeit with Andy Murray in the side; now British tennis has a long 20 hours or so to lick its wounds before tomorrow’s crucial doubles rubber.