Britain's Kyle Edmund’s Davis Cup debut turned from a dream to a nightmare as David Goffin fought back from two sets down for the first time in his career to win the opening point of the final for Belgium in Ghent.
British captain Leon Smith chose Edmund ahead of experienced campaigner James Ward, and it looked an inspired choice when the 20-year-old blasted his way to a two-set lead.
But this was the rubber Belgium simply could not afford to lose and Goffin, ranked 84 places above his opponent at 16, duly obliged by turning things around to win 3-6 1-6 6-2 6-1 6-0.
Smith plumped for Edmund, who was looking to become the first debutant to win a live rubber in a final, after watching him win a second-tier Challenger title on clay in Buenos Aires two weeks ago.
Unlike many of his compatriots, Edmund is perfectly happy on the red stuff, but playing for his country, not to mention the size of the occasion, was all new.
Thirteen thousand fans flocked into the cavernous Flanders Expo amid tight security and, once they had taken their seats, it became clear there were many more British supporters than the official 10%.
Belgian King Filip and Queen Mathilde met both teams during a lively opening ceremony, the heavy beats of the music somewhat incongruous for royalty.
The atmosphere needed no artificial boost and it would have been only natural for nerves to be coursing through Edmund’s body as he stepped up to serve.
Twelve minutes later he walked back to his chair having saved two break points, the perfect way to settle those butterflies.
Andy Murray’s response to a question about the tie being seen as him versus Belgium was that it piled a lot of pressure on the other rubbers for the hosts, and none more so than this one.
Goffin was clearly feeling that pressure and Edmund, the shackles off his thumping forehand, showed just why he has been Britain’s most highly-rated young player for a number of years.
No one could quite believe their eyes as the Yorkshireman romped into a 5-0 lead and, had he not missed a forehand by millimetres, he would have won the set to love.
Goffin threatened to turn things around as he pulled it back to 5-3 but, just as things were getting really hairy, Edmund stepped up again.
Serving for the set for a second time, he recovered from 15-30 with two superb points and then won the game, rather to his surprise, with an ace.
Edmund maintained his momentum and, by the time he had been broken again in the third game of the second set, Goffin was all over the place.
The Belgian’s arm was stiff and his brain scrambled, and he double-faulted on break point in successive games to give Edmund the set.
But it was only Edmund’s sixth best-of-five-set match, and only once had he actually played more than three sets, when he won the only grand slam victory of his career against Stephane Robert at the French Open this summer.
The momentum began to shift early in the third set as Goffin broke for 2-1. Suddenly it was the Belgian dictating play while the errors began to flow from Edmund’s racquet.
He simply could not hold his serve, losing six of his seven games in the third and fourth sets as Goffin levelled the match.
The British team’s hopes rested on Goffin feeling the pressure again but Edmund could not change the momentum and the end came quickly.