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Dan Evans and Cameron Norrie land on centre stage for a Davis Cup finale

The Guardian logo The Guardian 13/09/2018 Kevin Mitchell in Glasgow
Dan Evans listens to his Great Britain teammate Cameron Norrie during a press conference prior to the Davis Cup tie against Uzbekistan in Glasgow.: Dan Evans (left) listens to his Great Britain teammate Cameron Norrie during a press conference prior to the Davis Cup tie against Uzbekistan in Glasgow. © Getty Images Dan Evans (left) listens to his Great Britain teammate Cameron Norrie during a press conference prior to the Davis Cup tie against Uzbekistan in Glasgow.

It is simultaneously fitting and sad that Great Britain’s last match in the 118-year-old history of the “old” Davis Cup before the competition morphs into a global experiment of high-risk proportions in 2019 should be in Glasgow this weekend, scene of the team’s finest recent moments.

There is symmetry, too, in the return against Uzbekistan of Dan Evans, who has played some excellent tennis in his team’s cause, in Andy Murray’s home city – while the Scot will be watching from Philadelphia, where he is still working on his comeback. Asked whether he expected to be playing Davis Cup not long after returning from his one-year drug ban, Evans said: “No, not really. Obviously, with Andy and Kyle [Edmund] not being able to play this week, I was pretty lucky that I got asked to play.

Related: Andy Murray will miss Davis Cup to concentrate on return to full fitness

“I’ve had some great memories during Davis Cup. I’m sure I’ll be a little nervous going out to play. Four months ago I was playing at the leisure centre down the road [in Scotstoun]. I’m really looking forward to getting out there and representing my country.”

Evans, 222 in the world after an encouraging 40 matches since returning in April, beat some decent players to win a Challenger in Vancouver last month before doing less well in Mallorca and France. He said: “I didn’t play so good the past two weeks … probably shouldn’t have played, went straight from Canada to Mallorca – just been trying to get as much tennis as possible. I feel like I’m playing pretty good again.”

He will need to against the best Uzbek of them all, Denis Istomin, who turned 32 during the US Open, where he went out in straight sets in the first round to the American Steve Johnson.

Cameron Norrie, at No 70 the highest-ranked British player available, then faces Jurabek Karimov, the world No 434.

Norrie brings with him a flat New Zealand drawl – a legacy of growing up there – a dry sense of humour and a father with what he calls “a filthy Scottish accent”.

He said: “My dad travelled all the way from New Zealand yesterday. Got here today. He’s pretty jet lagged but [it’s] great to have him here. He grew up here in Glasgow, so it’s a pretty special moment for us. He grew up here in Glasgow, not far from King’s Park, went to University of Strathclyde, lived here the majority of his life.”

Related: Davis Cup shake-up planned with 18-nation World Cup-style format

Istomin, who plays the doubles on Saturday with Sanjar Fayziev against Jamie Murray and Dominic Inglot, nearly got Uzbekistan into the world group in 2012, leading them to wins over New Zealand and India before they lost to Kazakhstan in the final play-off. So here they are again, in their 11th attempt at cracking the big time.

Not so for Great Britain, of course, the 2015 champions who are assured of a place in the new competition, where the best 18 countries will play each other in a round-robin format in Madrid or Lille in November 2019.

The elder Murray, a six-times major doubles champion coming off winning the mixed title at Flushing Meadows, says he will miss the home-or-away ties next year. “Everyone who comes to watch has a vested interest in one player or one team or another,” he said. “Everyone is cheering – that’s what gets the passion. I’m expecting we’ll get that again from the crowd [here]. They’ve been so good to us over the past few years. We’ve got a great following.”

Soon enough those moments will be wrapped up as memories. Jamie’s brother, Andy, thought long and hard before deciding he could not interrupt his training schedule to take part in a tie in which Great Britain are favourites. But he will miss the noise as much as anyone.

Jamie Murray, meanwhile, joined the chorus of support for Carlos Ramos as the official of the moment prepared to go back to work in Croatia’s home tie against the United States in Zadar after upsetting Serena Williams in the US Open final at the weekend.

“I think that’s a bit far-fetched,” Murray said of the American’s claim after losing to Naomi Osaka in straight sets that Ramos was being sexist for docking her a game in the second set after she called him “a liar” and “a thief”.

Speaking to BBC Sport, Murray said: “I think the umpire did what was within his rights. Coaching is common. A lot of people are doing it. Some people aren’t getting called for it. To get called in a grand slam final was perhaps a bit tight, but I think the reaction was pretty overboard. I’ve seen a lot of people get called for coaching before, and you might have a grumble and stuff, but you get on with it.”

Others who have defended Ramos include Billie Jean King, who was the driving force behind the formation of the women’s tour and equal pay, the American-Czech legend Martina Navratilova, whose 18 slam titles Williams heads by five and who has had her own battle with prejudice over her sexuality, the United States Davis Cup team captain, Jim Courier, and one of his players, Steve Johnson.

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