A starstruck Dan Evans shared an awkward lift ride with Paul Gascoigne at the team hotel on Sunday. Today the little Brummie will share a court with Denis Istomin as he appears on Davis Cup duty for the first time since his 12-month ban for cocaine use. If his has been a career with no shortage of ups and downs, you could say this latest phase has escalated quickly.  

“Gazza walked in the lift when I was in it and I asked him if he was Paul Gascoigne,” said Evans of his accidental brush with the England and 
Rangers legend, who was there for a benefit night in his honour. Other guests at the same hotel were the Belgian national team, who were resting up following Friday’s victory against Scotland

“I didn’t know what to say. I was going up and he got in on 18 and I was like I could tell him [it was going up not down] but I thought nah I’ll let him go up. I got nervous. But I got a picture.”

While Evans wouldn’t be playing if Andy Murray, who is rehabbing his hip out in the United States, and Kyle Edmund, who is getting over a bout of tonsillitis, were available, it is worth noting that only four months have passed since Evans turned up in this city to launch his comeback bid at an LTA challenger in Scotstoun. His experience – six wins and 14 defeats in his 20 rubbers to date – won him the nod over Jay Clarke, a fast-improving young man from Derby. 

Once ranked as high as No.41, Evans now stands at 222, his form guide including a recent Challenger win in Vancouver. Having said that, so too has Istomin, the world No.60 a victor in Chicago only last week. 
“I’ve had some great memories during Davis Cup,” said Evans. “I’m sure I’ll be a little nervous going out to play but I’ll look forward to it as well. It’s exciting –as said four months ago I was playing at the leisure centre down the road. So I’m really looking forward to getting out there and representing my country.”

If there is plenty at stake on a personal level for Evans, in fact only a seeding rests on this delicately-balanced tie for Great Britain, who are already assured of a spot in the top division of this re-vamped competition in 2019 regardless. 

The same can hardly be said to apply to Uzbekistan. Not only is their pos-ition unclear going forward, Istomin, a man who has a defeat of NovakDjokovic at the Australian Open on his resume, has led Uzbekistan into these play-off ties five times and fallen short each time. 

“By ranking I’m the top player but the Great Britain team is very strong,” said Istomin. “Our team is also strong. With this team I think it’s like six losses but they have been pretty close matches before and now we have a good opportunity so we’ll try. It would mean a lot to us. Missing these two guys [Andy Murray and Kyle Edmund] is a big miss for Great Britain but they still have Norrie and Evans. These are top players and a strong doubles team. Of course, we have more chances without them, but  we have to do it.”