Andy Murray's return slowed by rain as Dan Evans marches on at Queens
Scot faces playing twice today if he finishes off Mahut while young Brit earns Del Potro chance
As if Andy Murray's preparations for Wimbledon have not been difficult enough, the British weather has also turned against the 26-year-old Scot. Murray spent a frustrating day here dodging the rain showers that have seriously disrupted this week's Aegon Championships and will have to return today to complete his second-round match against Nicolas Mahut. Murray was leading 6-3, 2-2 when play was called off for the night.
Murray was already facing the prospect of playing five matches in five days if he reaches Sunday's final here. If he goes on to beat Mahut he will have to return later in the afternoon to play his third-round match against Australia's Marinko Matosevic.
A frustrating day saw Murray and Mahut forced off the court three times. After the first set, only four games were possible – in two separate periods between the showers – in the ensuing three and a half hours before play was called off at 6.30pm. Murray, playing his first competitive match for a month after suffering a recurrence of a back injury, was clearly concerned about the slippery court. With Wimbledon only 11 days away, the last thing he needs is another injury.
Having lost to Mahut at this stage of the tournament 12 months ago, Murray would have been more than satisfied with his performance in the opening set against an accomplished grass-court opponent. Mahut saved two break points in the opening game before Murray broke to lead 4-3, completing the job with a forehand winner after a well-judged drop shot. Two games later Murray broke again, converting his third set point with a killing lob, before rain forced the players off court.
Earlier in the day, Britain's Dan Evans recorded one of the best victories of his career when he beat Finland's Jarkko Nieminen 6-4, 6-7, 6-4. The 23-year-old from Birmingham demonstrated once again how his ranking – he is the world No 277 and has never been higher than No 248 – does not reflect his talent.
Nieminen is the world No 37 and a player of great experience, having played in 13 finals on the main tour, but Evans was too good for him. The 31-year-old Finn, who is the highest-ranked player Evans has beaten, fought back to win the second set tie-break 8-6, but the Briton took the decider after an hour and 48 minutes.
Evans is not short on self-belief. The Briton said he had thought he would beat Argentina's Guido Pella, the world No 75, in the first round. "I prefer to play someone better, where they hit the ball, rather than a guy who's playing Futures," he said. "It's a bit more intense and I don't struggle to keep concentration when I'm playing here."
At 5ft 9in, Evans is nine inches shorter than his next opponent, Juan Martin del Potro, the world No 8. "He's going to have to go down from pretty high to low if I slice that much," Evans said. "He probably won't play as much slice as me. I have my own goals tomorrow. I don't think I need to share them with everybody. I'm pretty happy with the way I'm playing. I will just go out there and do what I have to do."
During a rain delay, Evans talked in the locker room to Murray and the Scot's coach, Ivan Lendl. Evans said he had found it "pretty intimidating" to be in Lendl's presence. "I don't know him," Evans said. "Obviously he was an unbelievable tennis player, so I just keep quiet and don't say anything."
They talked about the forthcoming US Open golf tournament. "He didn't much like my pick of Sergio Garcia to win it," Evans said. "He said [Steve] Stricker was a dark horse and he can't see past Tiger Woods, so I wasn't going to comment on that."
Lleyton Hewitt, four times a winner here, gave Grigor Dimitrov a lesson in grass-court tennis, beating the 22-year-old Bulgarian 6-4, 6-3. Tomas Berdych, the No 2 seed, beat the Dutchman Thiemo de Bakker 6-1, 6-4 in the Czech's first match since his defeat to Gaël Monfils in the first round of the French Open.
Dimitrov later joined forces in the doubles with Freddie Nielsen, who won the Wimbledon doubles title last year with Britain's Jonny Marray. Dimitrov and Nielsen were beaten 7-6, 6-3 by Jamie Murray and Australia's John Peers, who have formed a useful partnership in recent weeks.
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