Katie Boulter has set her sights on pushing further up the rankings after winning the biggest title of her career.

The British number one defeated five top-40 players to win the San Diego Open, bringing her a first WTA 500 trophy and elevating her ranking to 27.

With Cameron Norrie slipping to 28, it means Boulter is the highest-ranked British singles player of either gender heading into the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, which begins on Wednesday.


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The same week a year ago, Boulter was ranked outside the world’s top 150, and she does not have many points to defend until the grass-court tournament in Nottingham in June, where last year she picked up her first WTA title.

“I feel like I’ve started the year very well and I’ve given myself the best opportunity to set myself up for the rest of the year,” said 27-year-old Boulter.

“I’ve got a free swing, I don’t really have too much pressure. I’m just here enjoying myself and working as hard as I possibly can with a great team. You never know what could happen so I’m looking forward to the rest of the year.”

The weekend was made even more special for Boulter by the success of boyfriend Alex De Minaur, who successfully defended his title in Acapulco on Saturday before catching an early morning flight to cheer on the British star.

They join the likes of former couples Jimmy Connors and Chris Evert and Lleyton Hewitt and Kim Clijsters in winning titles on the same weekend, and Boulter said: “I think that is very cool.

“I had no idea other people had done it. To share something with my other half is going to be something that we won’t forget.”

While the two titles both earned their recipients 500 ranking points, De Minaur took home around £325,000 and Boulter just £112,000, highlighting the continuing disparity between the ATP and WTA Tour away from the biggest joint events.

Boulter has mixed feelings, saying: “I’m obviously very happy with my first WTA 500 title, not too many players can say that they’ve won a 500 so I feel very special.

“Regarding the prize money, I feel like there’s a lot of equality in our sport in the biggest events. I really hope that the WTA can continue to help bridge the gap between the other events.”

There is parity in Indian Wells, where the tours come together at a big event for the first time since the Australian Open.

Boulter’s elevation to the top 30 comes too late to earn her a seeding and she will be back in action on Wednesday against dangerous Italian Camila Giorgi.

If she can maintain or improve her ranking through to the French Open and Wimbledon, she will earn herself a seeding, meaning she would not face a player in the top 32 until at least the third round.

“It’s definitely an aim of mine,” said Boulter. “I want to make sure that I can get as close to a seeding as possible. At the moment I’m in but it takes time to build more ranking points and to get myself to that place.

“Every single place in the ranking counts and I’ve just got to do my best because obviously it makes a difference as to who you play in the tournaments.”

Boulter is joined in the Indian Wells draw by Emma Raducanu, who has been given a wild card and will take on a qualifier in the first round.

Raducanu enjoyed one of her best weeks in the Californian desert last year, defying the wrist problems that subsequently forced her to go under the knife to reach the fourth round.

Norrie has a bye in the men’s event as the 28th seed while Andy Murray plays a qualifier, Jack Draper meets Christopher O’Connell and Dan Evans plays Roman Safiullin.

Rafael Nadal returns to the tour for the first time since suffering a muscle injury in Brisbane in January and will take on fellow veteran Milos Raonic, while Novak Djokovic makes his first appearance in Indian Wells for five years following the relaxation of Covid-19 restrictions.

Cameron Norrie’s defence of his Rio Open title is over after he was beaten by qualifier Mariano Navone in a gruelling semi-final.

Norrie struggled physically in the Brazilian heat as Navone, playing in his first ATP semi-final, pulled away to win 6-4 6-2.

The pair traded breaks in the opening two games, and then Navone, showing little fear in his first appearance on such a stage, got the break again to go 4-3 up.

Norrie saved break point three times in the next service game, but it was only a temporarily reprieve before Navone took the first set.

The pair traded further breaks at the start of the second set before another slog of a battle in the third game, which saw Norrie save four points on his serve before eventually succumbing.

That proved a turning point as Navone reeled off the next two games to take a commanding lead over a fading Norrie, whose resistance had been broken.

After falling 5-2 down, Norrie received treatment from the physio but got back on his feet to see the game out even though his fate was already sealed.

Cameron Norrie suffered an agonising end to his Australian Open run as he was pipped in a fifth-set tie-break by Alexander Zverev after a terrific fourth-round tussle.

The British number one broke new ground with a brilliant attacking display to defeat Casper Ruud on Saturday and again showed the new dimensions he has added to his game to push the sixth seed all the way.

Norrie, who had not won a set in their four previous meetings, twice came from behind to force a decider but it is Zverev who moves through to the quarter-finals after a 7-5 3-6 6-3 4-6 7-6 (10/3) victory.

Norrie will leave Australia, though, knowing that he can mix it with the best players in the world on the biggest stage and with confidence fully restored after a shaky second half of last season.

The match was briefly interrupted in the third set by a protester, who threw ‘Free Palestine’ flyers onto the court from the front row of Margaret Court Arena before being forcibly escorted away by two spectators.

The scenes were reminiscent of Wimbledon last summer, when Just Stop Oil protesters threw jigsaw pieces and confetti onto the court during two matches, although the leaflets were swiftly cleared here and play quickly resumed.

Norrie’s tactics against Ruud came as no surprise to Zverev, who spent the off-season practising with the British number one in Monte-Carlo.

There were few rallies of any kind in the first set, with serve dominating until Norrie, who was trying to beat a top-10 opponent at a slam for the first time, was broken at 5-5.

Zverev immediately came under pressure on serve for the first time but saved a break point with a forehand onto the line, and looked to have taken control of the contest when he broke again to lead 3-2 in the second.

However, Norrie played what must be one of the best returning games of his career to hit straight back, finishing it off with a zinging backhand cross-court winner.

And Norrie was not finished there, the 28-year-old showing his new-found aggression and willingness to mix up his tactics to pile more pressure on Zverev in his next service game.

The German saved two break points but then mis-hit a forehand on the third and suddenly Norrie was serving for the set.

It was far from straightforward for the 19th seed but he saved four break points before taking it, fortuitously, when a forehand hit the top of the net and dropped over.

A poor service game at 1-2 in the third set was enough for Zverev to take it and though Norrie pushed hard at the beginning of the fourth set, Zverev managed to save two break points in the second game.

However, the Olympic champion was powerless to stop Norrie forcing a decider, the 28-year-old creating two set points at 4-5 and taking the first with a delicate half-volley.

Norrie was managing to bully Zverev, one of the most powerful players on tour, at times from the baseline, while his drop shots and short angled slices kept the German guessing.

They exchanged breaks of serve at the start of the fifth set while Norrie survived a tense game at 3-3, saving three more break points.

Both men managed to hold serve through to a first-to-10-points tie-break but there Norrie’s resistance ran out, with Zverev clinching the win after four hours and five minutes to end British interest in the singles.

Cameron Norrie’s new attacking game style against Casper Ruud came as a surprise to many, but not to his next opponent Alexander Zverev.

The British number one eschewed his usual grinding baseline game, making frequent forays to the net, and his reward was the best grand slam victory of his career.

Through to the fourth round of the Australian Open for the first time, Norrie will try to break more new ground with victory over a top 10 player at a major.


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Zverev had a sneak peek at Norrie’s new tactics when they trained together during pre-season and the German said: “I actually thought he played exactly what he was working on in the off-season.

“We obviously spent the off-season together in Monaco, so I’ve seen him every single day. This is exactly what he was working on.”

He continued: “When you think of Cameron Norrie, you normally think of somebody who grinds a lot, a big fighter. But in the off-season he really worked on his game and he really worked on the aggressive style of play. He really worked on coming forward.

“It was very noticeable in December, and you can see it on the court now. The work is paying off for him.”

Norrie moved to Monte Carlo in 2022, partly because it would mean being able to train with some of the best players in the world, while he hired a new assistant coach in former Wimbledon doubles champion Stephen Huss.

Having struggled during the second half of last season, Norrie appears rejuvenated and he said: “Even just being in the second week for the first time in Australia, never done that. It means a lot to do that and start the year playing some good tennis.

“I think it just helped having a good break and a really good off-season to put a lot of time on the court and get better as a player.

“I think it just comes down to how can you play the biggest points the best and feeling calm and feeling good about yourself. I have done that, and I was feeling that coming into the season.

“I want to keep going. I know it just gets tougher. Next match is going to be tougher.”

Norrie will certainly have to adjust the game plan for his clash with sixth-ranked Zverev, who has made a strong return to the top of the sport following a serious ankle injury in 2022.

The British number one relentlessly attacked Ruud’s backhand but Zverev has one of the best in the business, while putting the German under pressure on serve will be a challenge.

Much of the attention on Zverev this fortnight has been regarding his forthcoming court case to contest domestic abuse charges, which he denies, but whatever the rights and wrongs of his position on the ATP Player Council or continued participation on the tour, he remains an exceptional player.

He has beaten Norrie on each of the four previous occasions they have played without dropping a set.

“I sat down with (coach) Facu (Lugones) and watched the matches with Casper back, and we talked a lot about what wasn’t working,” said Norrie, who had also lost three times to Ruud prior to Saturday’s victory.

“I think there will be a lot of things in there with Zverev. The last few times I have played him, it’s kind of been a similar match every time, a tough set and then he’s run away with it.”

Zverev is taking nothing for granted, saying of Norrie: “He’s playing great tennis, beating Casper. I think Casper was undefeated in Australia so far this year, also playing great tennis. I’m looking forward to a tough match.

“I think everybody is always improving. Everybody is always trying new things. I think with Cam this year, you definitely see that. I’m just going to try to keep going for it and just try to extend my lead.”

Cameron Norrie will have to break new ground in two ways if he is to keep British singles hopes alive at the Australian Open.

The 19th seed is the only British player to have reached round three but he has never been further at Melbourne Park, while he has lost all three previous matches against opponent Casper Ruud.

Indeed, Norrie has managed just one set, at the ATP Finals in 2021, while Norwegian Ruud also came out on top in meetings in Miami and San Diego.


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“He’s beaten me a few times in some really big matches,” said Norrie. “I’m going to look at those matches and see where I can improve.

“I think a lot of the time was down to execution and him staying a bit calmer than me in the bigger moments. Every time I played him, he served really, really well. I think his serve is quite underrated.

“I didn’t actually get a chance to watch one point of his (second-round) match, but I heard it was really high level from both. I’m looking forward to watching that one and then watching my previous matches with him to see what I can improve on and what I can do to make him uncomfortable out there.”

Both Norrie and Ruud survived five-set encounters on Thursday, with the British number one putting wrist pain out of his mind to come from two sets down to beat Giulio Zeppieri.

Ruud, meanwhile, prevailed in a deciding tie-break against Australia’s Max Purcell to make it to the last 32 in Melbourne for the second time.

He was ranked number two in the world after reaching his second grand slam final of the season at the US Open in 2022 but, despite getting to the same stage again at Roland Garros last year, he has slipped to 11th.

The 25-year-old is yet to lose so far this season, though, winning all his matches at the United Cup earlier this month, and he hopes he still has the winning formula against Norrie.

“He’s a tough competitor, for sure,” said Ruud. “He’s raising his level the past three, four years.

“He has a cool story. Came from college, took it to the next step from there. He’s a great player. I need to be on top of my game if I want to hang in there with him.

“I have played him a few times before, been able to beat him before. I know what has given me the win. He will try to seek revenge and find a way to beat me.

“It’s going to be a tough one. In a way we’re both in a similar situation, we had a tough five-setter.”

Cameron Norrie is the only British singles player left in the Australian Open after a five-set win over Giulio Zeppieri in the second round.

British trio Emma Raducanu, Jack Draper and Katie Boulter all lost while Kazakh third seed Elena Rybakina became the biggest casualty of the tournament so far, losing an epic deciding tie-break against Anna Blinkova.

Women’s world number one Iga Swiatek almost went the same way but recovered to beat Danielle Collins while men’s second seed Carlos Alcaraz also progressed on a day Jessica Pegula and Holger Rune were knocked out.

Picture of the dayTweet of the day

Figures from across the tennis world have been paying tribute to the Daily Mail’s hugely respected tennis correspondent Mike Dickson, who died in Melbourne on Wednesday.

Stat of the dayShots of the dayBrady blow

American Jennifer Brady has been sidelined for the majority of the three years since she reached the Australian Open final in 2021, and she has now announced that she needs more surgery.

Medvedev’s dawn raid

Men’s third seed Daniil Medvedev looked to be heading out as he went two sets down to Emil Ruusuvuori.

But the Russian showed his fighting spirit and ensured it was a very early morning as he battled back to win in five sets, winning 3-6 6-7 (1) 6-4 7-6 (1) 6-0 just before 4am local time, with sunrise two hours away.

Friends reunited


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Fallen seeds

Women: Elena Rybakina (3), Jessica Pegula (5), Daria Kasatkina (14)
Men: Holger Rune (8), Alejandro Davidovich Fokina (23), Jan-Lennard Struff (24), Jiri Lehecka (32)

Who’s up next?

Novak Djokovic will attempt to find his form when he takes on dangerous Argentinian Tomas Martin Etcheverry in the third round on Friday.

Women’s defending champion Aryna Sabalenka faces Ukrainian Lesia Tsurenko while Coco Gauff takes on fellow American Alycia Parks.

Jannik Sinner has been the most impressive of the leading men so far and he meets 26th seed Sebastian Baez.

Cameron Norrie was pleased to show his mental fortitude in a gritty comeback victory over Giulio Zeppieri in the second round of the Australian Open.

A strong wind and two rain breaks, coupled with an inspired opponent, made life extremely difficult for the 19th seed but he battled to a 3-6 6-7 (4) 6-2 6-4 6-4 victory to set up a clash with 11th seed Casper Ruud.

Norrie took a medical timeout early in the match for treatment to his right knee and was also shaking out the troublesome left wrist that prompted his withdrawal from a tournament in Auckland last week.

The British number one is confident the issues will not hinder his chances, and took heart from being able to play through the discomfort.

He said: “I feel great right now. I think it will be interesting to see how I pull up. The legs feel great. Hopefully the wrist is good, as well. I think it’s just a good lesson to learn that I can play with a few distractions going on.

“I don’t think the knee was anything. I think it just was a bit more precautionary. Actually it loosened up. I think it was probably just being very tense from the match.

“I think I have to make sure I warm up really well. Once the wrist is warm, then I’m not feeling it. So I think it’s just trying to stay warm and play and not think about it. I was able to prove that in the first couple matches.

“I think I was making it a bigger deal than it probably was in the beginning of the match. I was addressing it too much. Once I switched my focus and my energy towards how to win and how to play and how to win points, I think that was key. I think it was a good match mentally for me.”

It is the third time Norrie has recovered from two sets down to win after his Davis Cup debut against Roberto Bautista Agut in 2018 and a first-round win over Diego Schwartzman at the US Open four years ago.

For the best part of two sets Norrie was unable to cope with the power of Zeppieri, ranked 133 but in form after coming through qualifying, who bullied the British number one with his serve and forehand.

In cool, windy conditions, Norrie did not get into the contest until late in the second set, when he gave himself the chance to level proceedings only to lose the tie-break.

The third set was affected by two rain delays but Norrie had changed the momentum and he hung tough through a close deciding set before gaining the crucial break of serve at 5-5.

“He came out firing and basically took the racket out of my hand for the first hour and a half,” said Norrie.

“I was really flat. I was just kind of complaining to myself about little things. Wasn’t moving. Wasn’t playing clear. I wasn’t thinking clearly.

“I just managed to rise the energy a little bit. He dropped slightly. I think, when the first rain delay came, I just felt a little bit more calmer coming out to court. I got a chance to chat with my coach and change the game plan a little bit, to play a little bit more to the backhand side.

“But I was really pleased more mentally how I managed to switch it around. I was not feeling good on the court. It was not great, but I managed to finish the match. I managed my serve so well from the start of the third.”

Norrie finds himself in the now familiar position of being the only British singles player left, and he will try to claim a first win over Ruud to reach the fourth round for the first time.

Cameron Norrie staged a superb comeback in difficult conditions to beat Giulio Zeppieri in the second round of the Australian Open.

A strong wind and two rain breaks, coupled with an inspired opponent, made life extremely difficult for the 19th seed but he battled to a 3-6 6-7 (4) 6-2 6-4 6-4 victory to set up a clash with 11th seed Casper Ruud.

It is the third time Norrie has recovered from two sets down to win after his Davis Cup debut against Roberto Bautista Agut in 2018 and a first-round win over Diego Schwartzman at the US Open four years ago.

Zeppieri is ranked down at 133 but was in form after coming through qualifying and crunched 63 winners in total, but Norrie did not panic and will be hugely satisfied with the result after a testing period over the second half of last season.

For the best part of two sets, Norrie was unable to cope with the power of Zeppieri, who bullied the British number one with his serve and forehand.

Both men were finding the wind tricky to cope with but Norrie began to get a foothold in the match at 5-4 in the second set, when he broke the Italian’s serve for the first time.

He was two points away from levelling the match with Zeppieri serving at 5-6 but the Italian fought back from 0-30 to force a tie-break, where he took an early lead that he did not relinquish.

Norrie, normally a cool customer, cut a deeply frustrated figure, while he was shaking out his troublesome left wrist having previously taken a medical timeout for treatment to his right knee.

The 28-year-old came out for the third set with purpose, though, and grabbed an immediate break of the Zeppieri serve before blustery showers began to blow through Melbourne Park, twice delaying the match.

In between, Norrie clinched the third set, and an immediate break at the start of the fourth set him on the way to levelling the match.

Norrie had experience on his side, with Zeppieri playing in only his third grand slam, but the 22-year-old, who had taken a lengthy medical timeout in the fourth set, began to offer more threat again in the decider.

Norrie came through a series of tight service games before a netted Zeppieri forehand gave him the break for 5-4 and the chance to serve out the contest, which he took before leaping across the court in celebration.

Cameron Norrie dispelled injury worries to ease into the second round of the Australian Open.

The British number one pulled out of the ASB Classic in Auckland, the city where he grew up, last week ahead of his quarter-final because of a left wrist problem.

Norrie admitted he was concerned with so little time to recover but there were no causes for alarm in a 6-4 6-4 6-2 victory over Peru’s Juan Pablo Varillas as he became the first British winner of the fortnight.

It was a kind draw for Norrie, although 81st-ranked Varillas did push Alexander Zverev to five sets in the first round here last year before going on to make the fourth round of the French Open.

Norrie looked a little tentative to start with but settled into a rhythm of lengthy baseline rallies and finally took his sixth opportunity to break serve in the fifth game.

The 19th seed took full control of the contest in the second set, finding more penetration on his groundstrokes and opening up a 5-1 lead.

Varillas fought back with three games in a row but Norrie served it out at the second time of asking and was untroubled in the third.

Cameron Norrie admits he is concerned about the wrist injury he suffered ahead of the Australian Open.

The British number one was forced to pull out of his quarter-final at the ASB Classic in Auckland, the city where he grew up, on Thursday after feeling pain in his left wrist following a second-round victory over Luca Van Assche.

Norrie is due to play his first match at Melbourne Park on Tuesday against Peruvian Juan Pablo Varillas, and he said: “There was not a particular moment where I felt something happen or anything.


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“The next day I was a bit sore, wasn’t able to play, obviously. I did a scan. It didn’t show anything too much. So I’m here and it’s feeling a bit better.

“I couldn’t play Auckland, so I’m obviously concerned. But we’re managing it with my team. It was better today, which is positive. Luckily I’m scheduled to play on Tuesday, so I have a few more days. I’m looking forward to practice tomorrow.”

The injury is badly timed for 19th seed Norrie, who struggled during the second half of last season and admitted he felt a little burned out.

He was rejuvenated after a strong pre-season, where he worked with new coach Stephen Huss, and claimed an excellent win to start 2024 against in-form Alex De Minaur at the United Cup.

Australian Huss will work alongside Norrie’s main coach Facundo Lagones, with the focus being on training weeks, and Norrie said: “He was so good, such a good influence on everyone in the team.

“He speaks really clearly on what he wants to see and what his ideas are, which I liked. He came in with some really good ideas. Great fit for the team. It was an unbelievable two weeks with him there.

“Great for Facu as well. Facu learnt a lot. I think it was exactly what we needed to talk about a bit more, tactics. I really liked him. There was no ego involved. He came in and he was really excited. He was loving the sessions and the quality we were bringing.

“I’m just pumped to be back on the court playing, competing the way I was there in the United Cup and the match in Auckland. I just want to keep evolving, keep getting better. A lot to learn from last year, but I want to look forward.”

There are also question marks over the fitness of British number two Dan Evans.

The 33-year-old played his first tournament this week in Adelaide after suffering a calf injury in October but admits he is still short of where he needs to be.

“The amount of people who say it’s an old person’s injury, pulling a calf, is astonishing,” said Evans with a wry smile.

“I had to be really cautious with it because all the doctors and physios said to do it again is not what you want. It was my tendon, as well, which is pretty important. My leg is fully fit. Obviously, you have to work the rest up.”


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Evans will take on Italian Lorenzo Sonego in his first match, while second seed Carlos Alcaraz is likely to be waiting should he win that.

“Definitely I can win my first round,” said Evans. “It’s how my body holds up and how it will recover. It was sore last week. I just haven’t had as much practice and training as I would really like.

“But you can have as much practice as you like, if you’re playing Alcaraz, it doesn’t mean you’re going to win anyway.”

Cameron Norrie continued his Australian Open preparations with victory over Frenchman Luca Van Assche in the second round of the ASB Classic in Auckland.

The British number one saw off his 19-year-old opponent 6-3 6-7 (6) 6-1 in just under two and a half hours to set up a quarter-final against Chile’s Alejandro Tabilo.

Having claimed the opening set, Norrie had match point in the tie-break before Van Assche came through to bring the match level.

He was then broken by Van Assche in the opening game of set three before hitting back emphatically, rattling off six games in succession to secure the win.

Norrie is seeded 19th for the Australian Open ahead of the draw taking place in Melbourne on Thursday.

The Lawn Tennis Association has called on British fans to show respect to opposing players after Novak Djokovic’s spat with supporters at the Davis Cup in Malaga.

Djokovic defeated Cameron Norrie 6-4 6-4 to secure a 2-0 victory for Serbia over Great Britain in the quarter-finals on Thursday evening but was very unhappy when a section of the 5,000-strong British support tried to drown out his post-match interview with drumming.

Djokovic, who had earlier ironically blown kisses to a vocal British fan at the end of the first set, told the supporters: “Learn how to respect players, learn how to behave yourself.” He then added: “No, you shut up, you be quiet,” as the row continued.

British captain Leon Smith played down the incident, arguing that noisy, partisan atmospheres are central to the Davis Cup.

An LTA spokesperson said: “Passion is a unique component of the Davis Cup and it is a competition where emotions run high. We are lucky to have strong travelling support and would always encourage GB supporters to behave with respect for our opposition.”

Rather awkwardly for the governing body, it does provide help to some supporter groups, including the one in question, the Stirling University Barmy Army, to travel to ties in order to create a good atmosphere.

The row overshadowed what was a disappointing end to an encouraging season in the competition for Smith’s men.

Norrie played well and kept the scoreline relatively close against the world number one without ever remotely threatening an upset but the damage was done when Jack Draper lost out 7-6 (2) 7-6 (6) to Miomir Kecmanovic in the opening rubber.

It was only the 21-year-old’s second Davis Cup match and one he will unquestionably learn from, with Draper set to be central to Britain’s hopes over the next decade and more.

He has recovered well from an injury-hit first two-thirds of the season, reaching the fourth round of the US Open and his first ATP Tour final in Sofia earlier this month to pull his ranking back up to 60.

“I’m really proud of the improvements I made this year,” said Draper. “I think, though I lost the match, I’m trying to play in the right way. I didn’t serve great, but I’m trying to look to come forward a lot more.

“I think it’s only exciting with me. I’ve got so much to improve on. That’s an amazing thing. Just reset and look for improvements.”

Draper also backed Smith to continue his long tenure in the captain’s role. It is now eight years since the Scot guided Britain to a stunning Davis Cup title, and next year will be his 14th at the helm.

“He creates an amazing environment,” said Draper. “We all want to play for him, all want to work hard. He only is positive around us in my opinion.

“It’s up to him if he wants to step down or not, but I’d be very happy if he stayed on and we can keep playing, because he’s a great captain, a good guy. He gives us a lot.”

Without a peak Andy Murray, Smith has had more difficult selection decisions to make, and last year’s group-stage exit ended in recriminations when Dan Evans claimed he should have been picked for doubles.

He got his wish this year, which paid off when he played the key role in helping Britain reach the last eight only for a calf injury to rule him out of this week’s event.

Had Evans been available rather than cheering from the stands, things might have turned out differently, and, with Murray also sidelined, Smith was left with a team that picked itself.

He will hope that Norrie rediscovers his best form next season having now lost three Davis Cup rubbers in a row, and there were some encouraging signs against Djokovic despite the final result.

Britain will find out on Sunday if they have been awarded a wild card for September’s group stage or must play a qualifier in February, while Djokovic and Serbia have their eyes on the big prize and a crunch semi-final against Italy on Saturday.

The match will see Djokovic clash with Jannik Sinner for the third time in a week and a half in the biggest Davis Cup singles match for many years.

Sinner handed Djokovic his first defeat since the Wimbledon final in the group stage of the ATP Finals only for the world number one to take revenge in the final.

Djokovic, who is unbeaten in Davis Cup singles rubbers since 2011, said: “We’re developing a nice rivalry lately. I have tons of respect for him.

“He’s been playing arguably the tennis of his life. I saw a little bit of the singles and doubles that he won (against the Netherlands on Thursday). Amazing. He really played on a high level. I could see that he was very pumped to play for his nation.

“I’m not playing bad myself. So it’s going to be, I think, a great match.”

Jack Draper justified the faith shown in him by Great Britain captain Leon Smith by coming from behind to defeat Australia’s Thanasi Kokkinakis in a dramatic opening rubber in Manchester.

Draper’s run to the fourth round of the US Open earned him not just a second Great Britain call-up but a first appearance, with Smith picking him ahead of his top-ranked player Cameron Norrie and former world number one Andy Murray.

The Lawn Tennis Association reported ticket sales of more than 9,000 for the tie at the AO Arena and the crowd were treated to an exciting clash, with Draper breaking Kokkinakis when he served for the match before coming through a deciding tie-break to win 6-7 (6) 6-3 7-6 (4).

They were on their feet when Draper drilled a final backhand winner down the line after two hours and 52 minutes to give Britain the perfect start against last year’s finalists.

Speaking on court, Draper said: “There’s nothing better. It was a real battle, massive crowd in here. It’s amazing to play my first Davis Cup tie in the UK in this sort of arena. I’m just so happy to be here and grateful Leon trusted me and put me out here today.”

Like Draper, 27-year-old Kokkinakis knows all too well how much physical frailty can stymie a career but he is a player with big weapons who has had some standout victories.

He won the Australian Open doubles title last year with his good friend Nick Kyrgios, while in Melbourne this year he and Murray contested a near six-hour duel ending after 4am.

It took a few games for the two 6ft 4in powerhouses to find their rhythm, with Draper forced to save two break points in his second service game.

He settled well thereafter, particularly on serve, and he had a set point on the Kokkinakis serve at 4-5 only for a backhand down the line to catch the top of the tape and drop wide.

The tie-break was as tight as the 12 games that preceded it but, after saving one set point with a big serve, Draper was unable to prevent Kokkinakis taking the second.

The set had taken more than an hour so it was a blow to Draper to lose it but he responded in the perfect fashion, taking advantage of a loose game from his opponent to claim the first break at the start of the second.

The 21-year-old was virtually untouchable on serve now while his heavy forehand was mopping up the ones that did come back.

He broke again to take the set and had all the momentum at the start of the decider but Kokkinakis dug in and looked to have made the crucial move at 4-4, taking advantage of an untimely dip from Draper to break.

However, closing out matches has never been the Australian’s strong point and back came Draper, a huge roar greeting the re-break.

The young British player produced the shot of the match in the next game, channelling Carlos Alcaraz by chasing to retrieve a lob and sending the ball back at full stretch past a bewildered Kokkinakis.

Draper looked in trouble when he trailed 4-2 in the tie-break but he roared back with five points in a row.

Jack Draper has been added to Britain’s Davis Cup team for next week’s matches in Manchester following his run to the fourth round of the US Open.

The 21-year-old again showed his huge potential by outperforming the rest of Britain’s singles players in New York, pushing eighth seed Andrey Rublev to four sets before bowing out on Monday.

Draper has struggled with injuries throughout the season and was a doubt for the US Open because of a shoulder problem so it was encouraging that his body held up through four best-of-five-set matches.

He joins Cameron Norrie, Dan Evans, Andy Murray and Neal Skupski in the side for matches against Australia, Switzerland and France beginning next Wednesday at the AO Arena.

It is the second time Leon Smith has called up Draper, who stayed on the bench during February’s victory over Colombia.

His inclusion presents captain Smith with a tricky selection decision given Norrie, Evans and Murray are significantly more experienced but none of the trio have had a great season, with British number one Norrie in particular in something of a rut.

Calling up Draper also indicates that Smith will rely on Wimbledon champion Skupski and Evans as his doubles partnership having overlooked Joe Salisbury, who is in the quarter-finals in New York with American partner Rajeev Ram.

Britain need to finish in the top two of the four-team group to make it through to the final stages of the competition in Malaga in November.

Cameron Norrie, Dan Evans and Jack Draper kept the British flag flying heading into round three at the US Open.

Andy Murray may have been sent packing, but there were sparkling wins for the other three British men at Flushing Meadows.

British number one Cameron Norrie fired 15 aces on his way to a 7-5 6-4 6-4 victory over qualifier Hsu Yu-hsiou of Chinese Taipei.

“Honestly, he should have won the first set but I was able to take the momentum into the second set,” said the 28-year-old.

“I was really happy with how I played the big points and I’m happy to be through.”

Norrie will face world number 61 Matteo Arnaldi of Italy in round three.

Evans, the British number two, came from a set down to beat Dutchman Botic van de Zandschulp 1-6 6-1 6-3 6-3.

It is the sixth time the 33-year-old has reached the third round at Flushing Meadows, although he will have his work cut out to go any further, with defending champion Carlos Alcaraz his next opponent.

Probably most impressive was Draper, who last year was ranked as high as 38 in the world but has endured a torrid 12 months with injuries and had to miss Wimbledon with a shoulder tear.

Now outside the top 100, Draper felt the shoulder again in a warm-up event in the US and feared the worst.

But the issue has cleared up and Draper is yet to drop a set at Flushing Meadows after beating 17th seed Hubert Hurkacz 6-2 6-4 7-5 in the second round.

“I felt something in my arm again that I hadn’t had in a while, and, you know, came here with the intention of ‘we’ll take it day by day’,” he said.

“I had a scan and I had a very small bit of edema in my arm, which is basically a tear.

“I was looking with my coach and physio thinking, you know, just another bit of time off. We were almost in tears. What more can we do?”

He continued: “There was a strong chance I couldn’t play this week. But we got the scans done and sent it back home and they said it’s not the same injury, so it’s not that serious.

“I’m kind of looking after it each day. It was a bit sore after my last match but when the adrenaline kicks in and obviously playing the US Open, I just put it out of my mind and go out and try my best to play the tennis I want to.”

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