From the naughty step to a high profile showdown with Roger Federer – the comeback of Dan Evans gathers pace.
The 28 year-old Midlander became the last British male standing at the Australian Open when he avoided the first day cull and now he has the chance to test himself against the defending champion in the second round.
After a hard-earned 7-5 6-1 7-6 victory over a fellow qualifier, Japan’s Tatsuma Ito, Evans will try and mount a stiffer challenge than he managed when facing Federer in the third round at Wimbledon 2016 and collected eight games in all.
Dan Evans set up a potential second-round match against defending champion Roger Federer
The Brit Evans defeated fellow qualifier Tatsuma Ito of Japan 7-5, 6-1, 7-6 in Melbourne
‘It’s not very often you get to play Roger on a big court and it’s something I will look forward to,’ said Evans, who after returning from his cocaine ban in April is probably looking in the best physical shape of his career.
Evans has played Federer before, in the third round of Wimbledon 2016 when he won eight games, but he would at least come into their second-round encounter match tight after coming through last week’s preliminary rounds.
His first set against Ito was very tight until the Japanese began to play loosely at 5-5, after which he had two treatments for some issue with his upper left thigh.
The third set was much closer as the Japanese found his best form, but Evans held on for a tiebreak.
At 6-5 he missed a forehand by millimetres on match point and could not get in the rally for the second one at 7-6.
Ito found his best form in the third set but Evans held firm to win on the tiebreak
On the third at 9-8 he played more aggressively and his opponent ended up shanking a forehand wide.
Having come back from his cocaine ban in late April last year the Evans return is building momentum, helped by the fact that he looks in his best shape ever under coach David Felgate.
Playing on an outside court with the MCG in the background it was brutally hot, but that barely seemed to bother him.
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