James Ward upsets Tursunov in another five-set thriller to keep Davis Cup Tie alive.
By Philip James
James Ward (GBR) def Dmitry Tursunov (RUS) 6-4 5-7 5-7 6-4 6-4
Ward, who had to overcome the disappointment of his five set loss on Friday, roared his celebration to the roof of the Ricoh arena in Coventry when he won the rubber with his 31st ace of the match.
However, while Fleming and Marray had been firm favourites, the odds were heavily against Ward levelling the tie against Tursunov, who is ranked 147 places above him and has been ranked as high as 20th in the world.
Ward seemed to have recovered from the fatigue and disappointment of Friday, again producing a high level of tennis as he had against Evgeny Donskoy on Friday, breaking at the end of the first set and serving out 6-4.
The second set was also nip and tuck, though this time the Russian got the late break to take it 7-5.
That meant Tursunov again served first but Ward’s reaction to losing the second set was to break in the first game.
However he could not consolidate it and was broken back immediately and was soon a break down and facing further break points.
Ward managed to save those and battle back to 5-5, saving a set point with an ace along the way, before eventually succumbing again 7-5.
If anybody had accused Ward of mental weakness after losing from two sets and a break up on Friday, it will not be an accusation repeated today.
In contrast it was 30-year-old Tursunov who seemed to be feeling the fatigue and the pressure, and earned himself a code violation for unsportsmanlike conduct, upon which Ward bounced to break early in the fourth set.
From there Ward served out the fourth set without much ado, and continued to dominate on his own serve early into the fifth.
At 2-2 Ward made inroads into the Russian’s serve for the first time in the set and earned a break point by an unbelievable rally before Tursunov double faulted to hand Ward game.
The break had the crowd and Ward buzzing, and he came out to serve three aces in a row, winning the next game to love.
There was one last scare left at 4-3 as Ward was down 0-30 on his own serve, but he battled back to hold before eventually serving out to win in three hours and 30 minutes to even the tie to 2-2.
With GB captain Leon Smith shouting “I believe in you” from the sideline, the hope is London-born Ward can use this victory as a platform to boost his singles ranking.
Meanwhile Evans, ranked 325, will see if he can complete the shock comeback as he plays the deciding rubber against 80th-ranked Donskoy.