US Open 2013: Dan Evans roars back to shock Bernard Tomic and secure place in third round
British qualifier finds his feet after losing first set 6-1 and outplays highly rated Australian
You would have got long odds a fortnight ago on Dan Evans being the first British man to reach the third round of the US Open but the 23-year-old from Birmingham moved into the last 32 here tonight with his second big victory of the week.
Evans, who had to win three matches in qualifying just to reach the main draw, followed his straight-sets victory over Kei Nishikori, the world No 12, by knocking out Bernard Tomic, the world No 52 and one of the game's outstanding young talents. The world No 179 recovered from a slow start to win 1-6, 6-3, 7-6, 6-3 and earn a meeting with the winner of tonight's later match between Spain's Tommy Robredo and Canada's Frank Dancevic.
Andy Murray, the defending champion, will hope to follow his fellow Briton into the third round today at the expense of Argentina's Leonardo Mayer. The Scot made his belated entry into the tournament on Wednesday night when he beat France's Michaël Llodra 6-2, 6-4, 6-3.
Although Evans began his first service game with an ace, he looked tight for most of the first set. Tomic's languid style can be difficult for opponents to work out and Evans appeared reluctant to play his normal attacking game. From 1-1 Tomic won five games in a row to take the first set in just 22 minutes.
When the Australian broke to take a 2-1 lead in the second set it seemed that Evans might be heading for an early exit, but instead it proved to be the signal for the Briton to come out of his shell. Capitalising on some slack play by Tomic, Evans broke back to level at 2-2 and suddenly began playing with the attacking verve that can be his trademark.
Rediscovering the confidence to attack the net and put away his volleys, Evans had Tomic on the back foot for the first time. After two more breaks Evans served out for the set, converting his fourth set point when Tomic put a return wide.
After an exchange of breaks in the opening two games the third set went to a tie-break, which Evans dominated. From 2-2 he went 5-2 up with a brilliant backhand volley followed by two forehand winners. Tomic saved one set point with a big cross-court forehand but on the second Evans hit a fine forehand winner down the line.
The fourth set opened with two more breaks of serve before Evans made what proved to be the crucial break to lead 3-1. At 5-3 the Briton served out for victory in impressive fashion, finishing the job after two hours and 20 minutes with a service winner.
Murray's defence of his title finally began just before 10pm on Wednesday night. Already irked by not being scheduled to play his first match until the evening of the third day, the Scot then found himself featuring in the third-latest start to a night session in US Open history after lengthy rain delays earlier in the day.
"If it had rained tonight and we hadn't got finished, that would have been a problem for me," Murray said after his 98-minute victory. "I would have had to play three five-set matches in four days. That's very difficult. That's hard on the body, especially on this surface. I'm glad I got the match out of the way."
Mayer, Murray's next opponent, was born on exactly the same day as Murray, but thereafter the parallels between the two men are hard to find. A clay-court specialist who has never been in the world's top 50 or won a singles title on the main tour, the world No 81 has crossed paths with Murray only once, when he lost in three tight sets on a hard court in Valencia four years ago.
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