World No 3 Andy Murray unsurprisingly overcame 16-year-old Borna Coric in the opening play-off rubber on the clay of the Stadion Stella Maris in Umag, taking two hours in winning 6-3, 6-0, 6-3.
But Dan Evans, despite breaking into the world’s top 150 on the back of his glorious run to the third round of the US Open recently, was no match for Ivan Dodig, going down in straight sets, 3-6, 2-6, 3-6.
It means Great Britain’s chances of ending their five-year exile from the World Group now rests on the reverse singles today, providing Coric is given another opportunity against Evans, and what will now be a crucial doubles encounter on Saturday.
Murray, despite feeling his back at times against Coric — an issue that has troubled him this year and forced him out of the French Open — is to partner Colin Fleming against Dodig and Mate Pavic.
It was Murray’s superior physical fitness that wore down Coric, but only after the youngster — ranked at 525 and on his Davis Cup debut in the absence of the unavailable Marin Cilic — had troubled the Scot with break points in games one and five.