Dan Evans suffered a shock defeat to world number 253 Nicolas Mejia as Great Britain’s bid to return to the final stages of the Davis Cup got off to a bad start in Colombia.
Evans was sunk 6-2 2-6 6-4 in a marathon opening battle at the Pueblo Viejo Country Club in Cota, with Cameron Norrie set to face Nicolas Barrientos in a bid to end the opening day all square.
Britain were handed the nightmare trip after failing to qualify for the quarter-finals last year, and Evans clearly struggled to get to grips with the conditions in the raucous home arena.
Playing with depressurized balls to combat the effects of the 2,500m altitude, Mejia got off to a flying start with three straight aces before breaking Evans in his opening service game.
The Colombian, playing in place of injured world number 81 Daniel Galan, dominated the opening set and broke Evans again with a big return in the eighth game.
But the momentum seemed to have shifted when Evans broke early in the second set and increasingly began to dominate proceedings, breaking again to level the match and force the decider.
Evans looked set to streak home when he forced four break points in Mejia’s opening service game, but the Colombian clung on to save and continued to battle to stay level with his opponent.
It was Evans who faltered first with two break points as he served to stay in the match, giving Mejia two match points, of which he converted the second with a fine cross-court backhand to spark jubilant scenes.
Evans is scheduled to partner Neal Skupski against former world number one doubles pair Juan-Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah in the first of matches on the second and final day on Saturday.