ANDY Murray apologised by video link yesterday from the rehabilitation base he has set up in Philadelphia for missing what might be his last chance to play competitive tennis in the city of his birth. Instead it was left to Dan Evans - a man apparently choosing Glasgow to undergo his own public rehabilitation after a one-year drugs ban – and a second generation Scottish New Zealander in Cam Norrie to deliver day one of what could be an emotional Emirates Arena’s Davis Cup send off. With the pair helping Great Britain race into what is perhaps a surprise 2-0 lead, the stage is now set for Jamie Murray and his partner Dom Inglot to close out the tie today.

While we won’t find out the answer hopefully for a few years yet, the question of what happens to tennis after Andy Murray has long occupied minds in this country. Not least those – like his mother Judy – who have made it their job to build a legacy for the sport in this country. While this was a tie with very little riding on it from a British point of view – Leon Smith’s side are assured of a spot in the world’s top 18 teams in a reformed competition for last year regardless of anything which happens this week – there was perhaps a glimpse of that future here with a half-full arena and an atmosphere perhaps more akin to those low-key ties down at Braehead Arena in the lower reaches of the Euro/Africa zone than the crackle of previous Murray fests against USA and Australia in 2015 and Argentina in 2016. While a respectable estimated 16,000 of the 21,000 seats in use this weekend have in fact been filled – the weekend slots understandably sell better - such is the cult of Andy Murray that even if he was here in person to deliver his speech you suspect it might have put numbers on.

Yet if yesterday’s opening day singles lacked the stardust of Scotland’s three-time Grand Slam singles champion, the redemption of Evans provided the kind of plotline which any crowd could get their teeth into. With a few beers flowing by late afternoon, certainly none of the spectators who filled the lower bowl in this arena had any cause to feel short-changed. ‘No Evo, no party’, they chanted.

It was, after all, only four and a half months ago that this inspirational, if occasionally, infuriating little Brummie was returning to competition over the road at Scotstoun Leisure Centre having served 12 tennis free months after admitting to taking cocaine. Yesterday, after a quick practice hit at that West End location, he was producing some bravura tennis to see off Dennis Istomin, the world’s 60th best tennis player, by a 7-6 (4), 4-6, 0-6, 6-4, 7-5 over more than four hours. This was an emotional triumph for this 28-year-old - who hadn’t been sure whether he would be cheered or jeered by the Glasgow crowd. Only the second-ever five set win in his life, it seemed a long shot when Istomin took the third set 6-0 to secure a 2-1 lead.

“It was good to be back here in Glasgow at the Emirates,” said Evans. “For this maybe to be the last tie here, for that to be it, that would be pretty fitting for me. The crowd have always been great here for all the matches. Some days haven’t been easy. I was nervous to see how people might react when I came back to play. Obviously, opinions differ on what I did. But everyone I have played in front of has been great. And the players on tour.

“What was the toughest thing?” he added. “You are just so far away from the world you are used to. I had to live a boring, sheltered existence. I couldn’t even play tennis. I had to wait at home for my girlfriend to come home from work, that was it really. I am still only 200 in the world and I still have doubts now if I will get back, I guess that is pretty normal, but days like this there is light at the end of the tunnel.”

Clad in his trademark wraparound spectacles, Istomin has a tendency to rush the net, but it was Evans who playing the more assured tennis in the first set. He took it in a breaker, angering his opponent by taking an age to serve on set point when apparently distracted by a light. There were a couple of disputed line calls too in that fifth set, when the Uzbek was out of challenges, but Istomin was magnanimous afterwards. “There were some calls where if I had a challenge left I would have challenged it,” said Istomin. “But that is fine, it is tennis.”

Up next was Cameron Norrie, a product of Johannesburg, Auckland, London and Fort Worth, whose dad David hails from King’s Park. But he made light of any parochial pressure with a 6-0, 6-4, x-x win against the callow Jurabek Karamov which put Team GB well on the way to maybe their last ever Glasgow Davis Cup success story.