Tennis

Dan Evans wins five-set thriller against Alexei Popyrin to reach US Open fourth round

Dan Evans came from two sets down to claim a remarkable victory over Alexei Popyrin in the third round of the US Open. Evans, 31, is now into the last 16 at Flushing Meadows for the first time in his career after prevailing 4-6, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 in an epic contest which finished with both players visibly exhausted. He will now face second seed Daniil Medvedev, after he eased into round four with a straight-sets win over Pablo Andujar.

It was a result that one stage looked unlikely even after a fast start from the British player. He opted to receive first up and the decision paid instant dividends as a backhand winner set up three break points, and he only needed one of them before consolidating the break to lead 2-0. 

Evans was looking assured on serve as he moved 4-3 ahead but then produced a messy game, double faulting before a miss-hit gave Popyrin an opening he duly took to level things up.

And as the confidence appeared to surge through the 22-year-old Australian, the momentum shifted further as he held serve before breaking a rattled Evans to love to take the first set 6-4.

Popyrin did have to survive two break points in the first game of the second set before eventually getting out of jail with an ace. He later broke Evans again and at 3-1 and 0-30, delivered another body blow with four successive powerful serves to move within sight of a two set lead.

At 5-3 down, Evans did fashion a break point but failed to take it, before a sublime forehand from Popyrin gave him a set point – which he took to leave his opponent with a mountain to climb.

There was further frustration for the world number 52 early in the third set, when at 2-1 up, he missed more break point chances in a game which yielded five deuces before Popyrin eventually took it.

At that point Evans had failed to convert seven successive break points, but responded with a superb volley in the next game en route to holding his serve to love.

And then he finally took a chance to break, expertly lobbing his opponent before an ace in the following game secured a 5-2 lead.

Suddenly, it was Evans playing with swagger and he went on to take the set 6-3.

Popyrin then proceeded to give away the opening game of the fourth set with a double fault but as the contest opened up, both players shared four more breaks of serve when at 5-4, Evans ended the madness by taking a first of two set points.

Both players appeared to be hanging on in the fifth set and it took a stunning cross-court forehand from Evans to keep things on serve in the fourth game.

Emotions ran high as both players dug deep and remarkably, after the frenzied counter-punching of the previous set, all 12 games went with serve which meant a match deciding tie-break.

And Evans seized the moment, producing two clinical volleys as he sauntered into a 6-1 lead, and then took his first match point to seal an incredible comeback.


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