Andy Murray was unable to be the hero of his hometown again when Great Britain suffered a painful nighttime defeat to the USA in their Davis Cup game in Glasgow.
Dan Evans’ defeat to Tommy Paul and Cameron Norrie’s near-miraculous win over Taylor Fritz had cleared the stage for a deciding doubles match that started at 10pm at the Emirates Arena.
Captain Leon Smith chose Murray along with world doubles number one Joe Salisbury for the clash against Jack Sock and Rajeev Ram, with whom Salisbury won the US Open just five days ago.
Murray and Salisbury appeared to be in charge with a set and a break, but the American duo fought back strongly, eventually taking a 5-7 6-4 7-5 victory at 12:58pm.
That gave the US a 2-1 win and means they are in pole position to lead the group, while Britain will likely need to beat the Netherlands on Friday and Kazakhstan on Sunday to secure their place in the latter. eighth shootout in Malaga in November.
A sizable crowd stayed until the end, but a 4pm start time always seemed risky and with the last trains long gone, many fans had to leave.
For the first half of the tie, a US win at a civilized time seemed the likely outcome, with Evans 6-4 4-6 6-4 by Paul and Norrie making a slow start against Fritz.
Norrie, eighth to Fritz’ twelfth, got caught by his fingernails in the second set, but forced a tiebreak, seized his chance and served up a 2-6 7-6 (2) 7-5 win on the second try, punching the air in celebration.
Norrie, whose Glasgow-raised father David was in the crowd, said: “It was a great match. Obviously I didn’t get off to the best start. Taylor played very well. I don’t think I came out too sharp. He took advantage of that.
“I think the more pressure, the more I was cornered, the better I played today.”
A bleak start to the draw reflected the period of national mourning after the Queen’s death, with the usual music being replaced by a lone flute player and a minute’s silence for the national anthems, while the British players and support team wore black ribbons.
Music has been a key part of the great Davis Cup atmosphere in previous games at the Emirates Arena, including a crucial victory over the US to kick off Great Britain on their way to the title in 2015, and Evans felt the difference.
He said: “It was gloomy at the end change. Something was missing. That’s it at the moment.
“We are very lucky to play. Fortunately the event was allowed to go ahead. We are just doing our best. It was still a good atmosphere, I still enjoyed it.”
Wednesday’s ties in the other groups were all home team wins, with Italy beating last year’s finalists Croatia, Germany cutting France and Spain, minus resting US Open champion Carlos Alcaraz, beating Serbia.
Novak Djokovic should have played for Serbia but withdrew for personal reasons, while Rafael Nadal sits out of this podium.