Dan Evans dug deep to send Great Britain into the semi-finals of the inaugural Davis Cup finals in Madrid with a thrilling win over Germany.
British number one Evans, who had lost his previous two matches, beat Jan-Lennard Struff 7-6 (8-6) 3-6 7-6 (7-2) to give GB an unassailable 2-0 lead.
Earlier, Kyle Edmund beat Philipp Kohlschreiber in straight sets as Andy Murray sat out again.
Britain will face either Spain or Argentina on Saturday.
Evans’ relief at pushing Britain over the line without needing Jamie Murray and Neal Skupski to win the doubles, and finally earning a vital victory himself, was clear as he threw his racquet high towards the roof of the indoor arena when Struff pushed a forehand wide on the first match point.
Sprinting over to his team, Evans then leapt into the arms of his jubilant captain Leon Smith before being mobbed by his delighted team-mates and their support staff.
“The last two days I came up short and the other guys got it done,” Evans, 29, said. “But it’s not about me – it is about everyone.”
Hosts Spain, led by 19-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal, are level at 1-1 against an Argentina side without the injured Juan Martin del Potro on the main show-court at the Caja Magica.
Britain’s semi-final will take place on the same 12,500-seater Manolo Santana arena at 16:30 GMT on Saturday, with live text and radio coverage across the BBC Sport website and BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra.
By reaching the last four, Britain also assured themselves of a spot in next year’s season-ending finals, which are the brainchild of Barcelona footballer Gerard Pique and have features 18 nations competing at the inaugural ‘World Cup of tennis’ in the Spanish capital.
It is the third time in five years that 2015 champions Britain have reached the semi-finals.
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‘Boy, did he step up’ – Evans puts defeats behind him
Although British captain Smith had said whether to recall Andy Murray was likely to be one of his “most difficult” decisions, the absence of the three-time Grand Slam champion was still a major surprise when the team was announced an hour before the quarter-final tie.
Murray, 32, produced a laboured performance in his victory over Dutch world number 179 Tallon Griekspoor in the opening group match on Wednesday, admitting afterwards he was still a couple of kilograms heavier than he would like to be.
Whether down to a lack of sharpness or something else, his absence again meant Britain were relying on Edmund and Evans to deliver against the Germans.
Both men repaid the faith shown in them by Smith.
Evans’ place had come under particular scrutiny after the British number one lost both of his group-stage matches, despite leading by a set against tricky opponents who upped their levels considerably to overpower him.
After edging the first-set tie-break against a powerful Struff, who is ranked 35th in the world, Evans could not sustain his level as the German won the final four games of the second to force a decider.
For the British fans, it was another sense of deja vu.
But the Evans showed remarkable mental strength to stave off two break points at 2-1, then reassert himself as he faced scoreboard pressure by serving when behind before dominating Struff in a one-sided tie-break.
“Dan felt down the past couple of days, but boy did he step up,” Smith told Eurosport.
“He loves playing Davis Cup. We’ll savour this one.”
Edmund steps in to deliver again
Edmund, like he did against Kazakhstan’s Mikhail Kukushkin in Thursday’s must-win group tie, fulfilled his role spectacularly, producing one his finest matches of a year where he has struggled for victories on the ATP Tour.
Despite slipping to 69th in the world, Edmund has rediscovered his most potent weapon – blistering clean forehands – and improved his weaker backhand side at exactly the right time for his country.
The Yorkshireman hit 10 winners, compared to just six unforced errors, in a first set wrapped up in 32 minutes thanks to two breaks of serve and without facing a break point himself.
When 36-year-old Kohlschreiber did take his first chance at the third attempt in the fourth game of the second set, Edmund responded instantly to stop any momentum the German hoped to garner.
Showing a resilience and confidence often lacking this year, Edmund broke back with a forehand winner down the line, seconds after he chose the wrong side with a backhand which allowed the German to return at the net.
Two backhand winners down the line laid the platform for Edmund to break again for 6-5 and the opportunity to serve for the match, a chance he took with a hold to love sealed by a long Kohlschreiber return.
Edmund, usually so placid, revealed the emotions stirred by representing his nation in the Davis Cup by swinging a forearm high into the air after sealing a dominant win, embracing both Smith and Murray courtside before returning to the middle again to soak up the acclaim of the British fans.
While there appeared to be fewer Britons on a half-full court than at the two group ties against the Netherlands and Kazakhstan, those still in the Spanish capital provided sterling vocal support as they outnumbered their German counterparts.
“We have the best away fans here 100%, it feels like a home tie playing here,” Edmund said.
“We appreciate the efforts and we really feel it.”
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