|2019 Davis Cup Finals|
|Venue: Caja Magica, Madrid Dates: 18-24 November|
|Coverage: Listen on BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra from Wednesday, 20 November; Live text coverage on selected matches on the BBC Sport website and app. Click here for Live Guide.|
Great Britain secured their place in the knockout stage of the Davis Cup finals as Jamie Murray and Neal Skupski won their pivotal doubles match to clinch victory over Kazakhstan.
Murray and Skupski, knowing Britain would be eliminated if they lost, beat Mikhail Kukushkin and Alexander Bublik 6-1 6-4 in Madrid.
Britain will face Germany in the quarter-finals at 16:30 GMT on Friday.
Britain finished top of Group E, with Kazakhstan going out.
After being drawn in a favourable group alongside the Netherlands and Kazakhstan, Britain were always expected to reach the last eight at the new season-ending finals.
However, their passage was not as smooth as many may have predicted with both ties going the distance.
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A 2-1 win over the Dutch in their opening group tie on Wednesday meant Britain knew they had to beat the Kazakhs on Thursday to go through – a narrow 2-1 defeat would not have been enough to help them advance as one of the two best-placed runners-up.
Kyle Edmund stepped up in Andy Murray’s absence to give Britain the perfect start with a 6-3 6-3 win over Kukushkin in the first singles match.
British number one Dan Evans, knowing victory would seal their progress, lost 5-7 6-4 6-1 to Bublik to ensure a winner-takes-all doubles match played in a boisterous atmosphere at the Caja Magica.
Jamie Murray and Skupski, making his Davis Cup debut, raced through the first set in just 25 minutes before needing to break twice in the second set to secure victory.
The British pair took their second match point when Kukushkin skewed wide, leaving a healthy British contingent leaping to their feet and dancing in the stands.
Murray raised both hands in the air on court as Skupski jogged over to the British bench where he was mobbed by his team-mates and support staff.
“We played a great match from start to finish. We started quickly, were aggressive and didn’t give them time to settle,” said Jamie Murray.
“I don’t like to give them time, that’s my style and Neal did a great job, playing some great tennis. We’re so happy to get to the quarter-finals.”
British captain Leon Smith said: “Jamie and Neal were excellent and it shows the value of having an established team who are doubles specialists playing against two singles players.”
Edmund impressive but Evans falters
Andy Murray’s absence was unsurprising after the Scot laboured to a three-set win over Dutch world number 179 Tallon Griekspoor on Wednesday, which left him admitting he was not as sharp as he would like to be after taking a month off competitive tennis to spend time with his new-born son and family.
That placed the pressure on 24-year-old Edmund, at the end of a year in which he struggled for wins and tumbled down the world rankings as a result.
But Edmund, the 2018 Australian Open semi-finalist who has dropped to 69th in the world, outplayed 67th-ranked Kukushkin in a noisy Caja Magica.
Kukushkin was backed by about 100 boisterous and colourful fans, armed with drums and a trombone like they were when their women’s team played Britain in the Fed Cup earlier this year.
However, that did not put off Edmund, who showed no signs of the troubles which have plagued him on the ATP Tour this year.
The Yorkshireman’s explosive forehand – his key weapon – was particularly destructive, helping him hit 10 aces and 23 winners in a dominant performance.
After breaking again for a 4-2 lead in the second set, he took eight of the last nine points to race through the closing stages, converting his first match point when Kukushkin hit a forehand long.
“Kyle did a terrific job and, as I said yesterday, I had every confidence he would go out and play well. He was excellent,” said Smith.
“Andy wasn’t at his best on the court. And it’s tough to recover from that as well.
“When you’ve got someone like Kyle as an option, for me it was obvious to go and use him in that situation.”
Edmund’s triumph meant Evans had the opportunity to seal Britain’s place in the quarter-finals but, like during his defeat by top-ranked Dutchman Robin Haase, he faltered from a winning position.
Evans, 29, is ranked as Britain’s top male player after a strong season which has seen him climb back into the top 50 and earn main-draw victories at three of the four Grand Slams.
However, another fightback by an inspired opponent leaves him without a victory in the Spanish capital so far.
Smith backed Evans to “find a way” to win on a court which he believes suits the player’s game, saying if he had served out victory against Haase on Wednesday then everything “would be fine”.