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.”

Great Britain are dreaming of more Davis Cup glory after pulling off a remarkable victory over France to book their spot in the quarter-finals.

Needing victory in their final tie at a sold-out AO Arena in Manchester to reach the knock-out stages, it went all the way to a final-set tie-break in the last rubber, with Dan Evans and Neal Skupski saving four match points against Nicolas Mahut and Edouard Roger-Vasselin before triumphing 1-6 7-6 (4) 7-6 (6).

When a final French return flew long, Evans and Skupski fell to court before leaping into each others’ arms then celebrating with the rest of the team.

Evans was Britain’s key man across the three ties, winning four rubbers, including two against France having battled from behind to see off teenager Arthur Fils in the opening singles.

“It was nuts,” said the 33-year-old. “The singles is the singles and I feel comfortable on that court but the doubles was chaos. I just kept saying to Neal, ‘We’ve got a chance, we’ve got a chance’. We both kept going. We stuck together.

“It was an amazing day, an amazing feeling. Emotional more than anything. You want to be with these guys in the finals and you know what happens if you lose, it’s not ideal being at home as well. You feel that. It’s an immensely proud moment for me and the team.”

Evans talked after beating Fils about how attending Davis Cup matches as a boy in Birmingham had made him want to play professional tennis and this was his 25th tie across 14 years.

His has been one of the more tumultuous careers in British tennis and last year he annoyed captain Leon Smith and his team-mates by publicly airing his grievances about not being picked in doubles after Britain crashed out in the group stage in Glasgow.

Smith gave the 33-year-old a chance alongside Skupski in February’s play-off in Colombia, where they claimed an important victory, and two wins in decisive rubbers this time have seen him put his money where his mouth is.

Smith remains unhappy with the way Evans made his point, saying: “Am I glad he did it? No I’m not glad he did it and he knows that.

“You can’t get every decision right as captain. What’s important I think is how we came together not just here but when we were in Colombia together.

“I’ve always known Evo and Neal are a good pair. That’s why I think what’s happened this week is really good for us because it was really, really disappointing last year, it hurt a lot.

“Everyone feels it, it comes out in different ways. But for me the most important thing is moving forwards. Me and Evo are great and the team spirit has been brilliant.”

Having a strong doubles team is central to success in the new Davis Cup format, where ties are played over three rubbers rather than five.

Tuesday’s draw will determine who Britain face in the final eight week in Malaga from November 21-26, although they already know it will either be Italy or Novak Djokovic’s Serbia.

Whoever they come up against, Smith will believe that his team, with its improved strength in depth, can have a chance of matching their historic 2015 title run, when Andy and Jamie Murray made it virtually a family affair.

“It’s absolutely brilliant we’re going to Malaga,” said Smith. “We’ve definitely got a chance. We’ve got a really good team.

“We had the benefit at one point of having the best player in the world in our team. Obviously Jamie and Andy doing those things and winning a lot of matches, then the others pitched in and we became really strong.

“We’ve got a chance against anybody. It’s really tight, matches can go either way. Every single tie we’ve had here could have gone either way.”

 

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The only negative was two defeats for British number one Cameron Norrie, whose Davis Cup record now stands at an underwhelming seven wins and seven losses.

Norrie’s lack of recent wins was evident in Sunday’s loss to Ugo Humbert, where he played well for long periods but made errors at key moments, including double-faulting on match point.

Smith is not concerned, though, saying: “He’s amazing. He works his socks off. Every practice this week – bang on it. Every time you watch him, his intensity, his focus, his discipline.

“Some parts will just go like that. But that’s why he’s got top 10, why he’s top 20, because he goes at it every single day. He’ll be fine. He just needs to keep doing what he’s doing.”

Leon Smith is expecting a highly motivated Switzerland on the other side of the net as Great Britain try to maintain their Davis Cup momentum in Manchester on Friday.

Britain began their campaign at a packed AO Arena on Wednesday with a 2-1 upset victory over last year’s runners-up Australia.

That gave them a great chance of righting the wrongs of last year, when they were eliminated after only two matches of the group stage in Glasgow, and progressing to finals week in Malaga in November but there is still a lot of work to do.

Switzerland, led by three-time grand slam champion Stan Wawrinka, are already in the last-chance saloon having lost 3-0 to France in their opener on Tuesday.

“This is just the start, that’s what we talked about,” said captain Smith after watching debutant Jack Draper and Dan Evans pull off impressive wins against Thanasi Kokkinakis and Alex De Minaur, respectively.

“We’ve got a massive match on Friday against Switzerland, who obviously lost 3-0 so they’re going to have to come out and do something.

“They’re going to have high motivation and they’ll be playing with a crowd this time, which obviously Stan wasn’t happy with the other day.”

Wawrinka took to social media to voice his dissatisfaction with the small turnout for their meeting against France but a similar crowd to Wednesday’s 9,290 is expected on Friday.

Given their performances against Australia, Evans and Draper are the front-runners to keep their singles spots ahead of top-ranked Cameron Norrie and Andy Murray, but Smith may yet spring another surprise.

Evans had a strong record against De Minaur but has lost all five meetings with Wawrinka, while Swiss number two Dominic Stricker beat fellow 21-year-old Draper at last year’s Next Gen ATP Finals in their only previous match.

Smith welcomes the dilemma, though, adding: “People keep saying you’ve got really difficult selections – well, I’d rather that way to what it was many moons ago.

“I think it’s great, I think it’s testament to all the guys that everyone’s playing at the top of their game.

“We’ve got to weigh everything up because people have played a lot of tennis as well, potentially look at match-ups, but we discuss it as a group and ultimately we’ll make a call on it.”

Draper has managed only 10 tournaments this season because of a succession of injuries, the latest of which to his left shoulder saw him retire at the French Open and then miss Wimbledon, dropping him out of the top 100.

But time on the sidelines has not affected the Londoner’s ability to look like a top-10 player in the making and a run to the fourth-round of the US Open was his best yet at a grand slam.

“It’s been an incredibly challenging year for me,” he said. “I started the year at 38 in the world, everything was going great, and then just got hit by a load of injuries really. Maybe a few mistakes that I’ll learn from and stuff I could have done better.

“The one before Wimbledon was a real blow, I couldn’t play for a month or two, I spent loads of time in a bit of a rut trying to get out of it.

“I worked really hard to get myself back, I knew my time would come again because my tennis has always been there.

“New York was a massive boost for me, I needed it. Then coming here I’ve been really confident.

“It’s all coming together so hopefully I can just keep on going to the end of the season and finish really strong.”

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.

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