Ward secures stunning victory
Great Britain's James Ward produced one of the performances of his career to defeat Russia's Dmitry Tursunov in five sets in the Davis Cup.
Ward and Dan Evans had been on the wrong end of five-set defeats on Friday but Colin Fleming and Jonny Marray kept the tie alive with victory in the doubles on Saturday.
Ward, ranked 214th to Tursunov's 67th, began brilliantly but let chances slip away in the second set and it looked a seriously uphill task when Tursunov won the third as well.
But the Russian let his opponent back in and Ward, British number one in the absence of Andy Murray, took his chance superbly, clinching a 6-4 5-7 5-7 6-4 6-4 victory after exactly three and a half hours.
That set the stage for Dan Evans - the hero of Britain's 3-2 victory over Slovakia last year - to take to the court for the decider against Evgeny Donskoy.
Last summer Ward and Tursunov held similar rankings but a combination of Ward's wrist injury and the Russian rediscovering some old form meant they began the match 147 places apart.
However, it was the difference in experience that made this such a tough task for Ward - Tursunov is a former winner of the Davis Cup and seven ATP Tour titles.
Ward, 26, had been devastated at his five-set loss to Donskoy on Friday in a match he had led by two sets and a break but there was no hangover as his big serve helped him match his opponent with something to spare early on.
Indeed, it was Ward who was starting to apply the pressure and he got his reward in the ninth game with the first break of the match before serving out the set to love.
It was hugely impressive from the Londoner and he kept his foot down at the start of the second set, but this time he could not break the Russian.
He had chances in three games, including two break points at 5-5, but Tursunov came up with two big serves and held on.
Too often Ward missed returns when he had Tursunov on the rack, and it came back to haunt him when, for the first time, the Russian applied some pressure of his own and broke to level the match.
It was a huge blow to Ward but he responded in perfect fashion with a break at the start of the third, letting out a roar as he nailed a forehand down the line.
Tursunov hit straight back, though, and the British player was in trouble when the Russian broke again and moved 5-2 ahead.
Ward was beginning to look a little weary but he roused himself to keep the set alive with another break, finding the line with a desperate forehand cross-court pass.
He was under pressure on every service game now, though, and he could not withstand it in the 12th game, saving two set points but not a third.
Britain's hopes were hanging by the slenderest of threads but Tursunov gave his opponent a lifeline with successive double-faults to drop his serve in the third game of the fourth set.
The Russian was furious with himself and compounded matters by picking up a warning for swearing at the crowd, and Ward kept his head impressively to level at two sets all without the sniff of a chance for his opponent.
It was some turnaround and Ward then moved ahead in the decider with a break in the fifth game - an epic point followed by another double fault from Tursunov.
The crowd roared and the former Queen's Club semi-finalist celebrated exuberantly.
There was still plenty of work to do, of course, not least when Ward dropped to 0-30 serving at 4-3, but he showed impressive courage to come through and put the pressure right back on Tursunov.
The Russian held and forced Ward to serve it out, but there were no late twists as Ward planted an ace on the sideline on his first match point.