Kyle Edmund seals Great Britain's place in the quarter-final
Dan Evans’ failure to see off Vasek Pospisil in the early tie left the nation’s hopes on the shoulders of world No49 Edmund.
And the British No3, who had been left distraught by his failure to see off Pospisil on Friday night, did not disappoint.
In a highly charged TD Place Arena he held his nerve to see off 17-year-old Canadian rookie Denis Shapovalov, and put Britain into the second round.
World No1 Murray had taken a much-needed break after a disappointing Australian Open but with Canadian world No3 Milos Raonic pulling out injured Britain still looked to have enough firepower. Especially with Canada lacking a player in the top 100.
However Evans failed to live up to his favourite tag as he recovered from two sets and a break down to lead in the fourth set only to bow out to Pospisil 7-6, 6-4, 3-6, 7-6.
Stand-in British number one Evans went into the 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.”
Denis Shapovalov was disqualified for hitting the umpire
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.
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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.
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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’ return sailed wide.
Evans gave credit to Pospisil for his performance and for raising his game when the match seemed to be getting away from him.
"I thought he was going away and then he started to go for broke," said Evans. "He was hitting the lines a lot so it’s tough, he played well.
"Obviously the crowd carried him through. He’s been playing terrible for the last however long and this weekend he’s played the best I’ve ever seen him play.
"That court is suited down to the ground to his play. I don’t think I played my best tennis but on that court I don’t think it’s about your tennis, it’s about hanging in and taking your chances.
"It’s just disappointing I had the lead in the first and fourth sets and didn’t close those sets. I’ve come through those close matches lately, it went against me today."
Evans had been due to play in an ATP tournament in Montpellier next week but will pull out in order to give his body and his mind some much-needed rest.
He said: "It’s more mental, I’m just fed up of seeing a tennis ball coming at me or going past me – in that match going past me. I just wanted to put everything out on the court for Leon (Smith) and for everybody else, that’s all I did.
"I think it would be silly to play anything else. I’m pretty sore and I’ve got a few niggles, my feet are in a bit of a bad way."