DAN EVANS produced a stunning comeback tonight against Alexei Popyrin to reach the US Open last 16 for the first time.
The British No1, 31, looked down and out after a tricky start but pulled himself together and bagged a brilliant 4-6 3-6 6-3 6-4, 7-6 (7-1) win to set up a clash with world No2 Daniil Medvedev on Sunday.
Evans, 31, said: “I didn’t think I did a bad job in the first two sets. I think he dropped a little bit, I still had chances in the first two.
“In the fifth he started serving a lot better and then I played a good tie-break. Now I’m looking forward to relaxing!
“Coming back form Wimbledon – when I was poor – was difficult.
“My focus was on third round here, and once I got there to put in a good performance. I could have lost that match pretty easily.”
On facing Medvedev, he added: “He’s a great player. He’s done great here, he’s the second bet player in the world.
“I won’t think about that too much just yet. I’m just happy.
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“If I play like I did in the tie-break for three hours it might get me close to a win. He’s a great competitor so competing hard will be the first thing.”
Evans beat Aussie Popyrin at Queen’s earlier this summer but warned before this clash that playing on the US Open hard courts would be a different proposition.
And so it proved for the Brit who started like a train before crashing and burning only to recover amazingly and set up an epic, rollercoaster five setter which ultimately went his way.
The Brummie ace set his intentions out in the first game by whacking Popyrin at the net with a volley, and although he managed to break early on and gain a foothold, it didn’t last.
Evans managed to get 4-2 ahead despite struggling with his first serve and it was not long before his big hitting opponent took advantage and nicked the first set.
The Brit, who has been struggling to overcome Covid this summer, was getting angered by some loudmouths in Popyrin’s team sitting courtside but there was little he could do to keep his opponent quiet.
The Aussie loved rushing to the net – which seemed to unsettle Evans – and when he fell two sets down, the 31 year-old was hurtling towards an exit.
He came back from a similar situation in the Australian Open first round last year but Popyrin was a level above and never looked like cracking until a sweet Evans lob secured a break and a 4-2 lead in the third.
Suddenly Evans was back in the clash and with Popyrin looking gassed the Brit managed to break in the fourth and give him hope of pushing an entertaining tussle into a decider.
Evans was broken himself but as the lanky 22-year-old started to wilt, the Brit powered on and set up a fifth which swung both ways before the tie-break was sealed when Popyrin double faulted.
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