The Davis Cup tie between GBR and Canada ended on Sunday, with the second of the reverse singles and vital 5th rubber.
The tie was evenly poised at 2-2 as Denis Shapovalov and Kyle Edmund took to the court. Edmund had an awful time on the Friday, even admitting himself that he had not played well.
The Brit was desperate to improve on that performance and secure the vital win for the travelling team.
Shapolov, the young Canadian with a very bright future in the game, also knew the stakes for this match. It really was winner takes all.
The victor would take their team to the QF; the losers would face a play-off in September.
Up to this point, the weekend had been full of amazing tennis, with Dan Evans starting the tie for GB against Shapolov and winning easily.
Then it was the turn of Vasek Pospisil taking on the role of the Canadian #1 against Edmund.
Even though Pospisil was injured, he still managed to beat Edmund in straight sets. Edmund had not played well in that match and admitted as much.
His captain Leon Smith would have had to raise his spirits and restore his confidence.
Edmund was in a position he had not been in before. He was playing for his team’s survival. Having made his DC début in the Ghent final in 2015, he was also the least experienced of the Brits in terms of ties and being named on the team.
Evans has had the experience of having to play a vital 5th rubber, as has James Ward, who has not played on the tour yet this year.
Ward is coming back from injury and hopes to be back playing events in March. Both Ward and Evans had been instrumental in getting GB back into the World Group with their efforts.
Who can forget the World Group first round tie in 2015, GBR v USA – the 2nd rubber, John Isner v Ward?
It was a long, long match, in which the Brit came back from two sets to love down to shock the Americans for the second time in two years by defeating their number one player.
Back to Ottawa and the very important final rubber. Edmund and Shapovalov took to the court and started their match.
The Brit definitely played much better than he did on the Friday, hitting more of the shots that he had missed before.
The Canadian Shapovalov was not playing badly either, but at 17 years old, he is still inexperienced in the tennis world. Although he won Junior Wimbledon, this was a step up from that.
Edmund broke the Canadian in both the first two sets, closing out easily to have the lead in the match.
It was going to be vital for Shapalov to make an early break in set three to try and force a comeback.
Both held their first service game of the third set, then the third game came.
The Canadian didn’t do a lot wrong, but Edmund broke when Shapovalov hit a ball long. Shockingly, this was to be last point of the match.
The 17-year-old, annoyed with himself, took the other ball he had and hit it HARD. The intention was to hit it out of the stadium. The ball didn’t; it hit the chair umpire in the eye.
Immediately the whole entire arena went silent. You could have heard a pin drop. Arnaud Gabas (the chair umpire) was provided with a bag of ice, and he had no choice but to default the Canadian.
It was a bizarre end to the tie. There have been other well known defaults–Tim Henman and Jeremy Bates were disqualified from the doubles at Wimbledon in 1995. Henman hit a ball in anger and it hit a ball girl in the ear. This resulted in a default for the Brits at Wimbledon.
Another high profile disqualification came in 2012 when David Nalbandian kicked out in frustration at an advertising board, which was near one of the line judges chairs. This resulted in the line judge being injured in the leg and the Argentine was defaulted.
As for defaults in the Davis Cup, this seems to have been the first, and hopefully the last.
There has been no word on the umpire since the incident itself, but once he got down from the chair his eye was already closing.
If he only comes away with a black eye, he and Shapovalov will have both been very very lucky.
The Canadian learnt a very valuable lesson, and has been very remorseful. He has apologized to Gabas directly, and has received a $7,000 fine for the misconduct.