British No 1 Dan Evans edges out young Australian Alexei Popyrin and equals his best Grand Slam run; the 31-year-old will face world No 2 Daniil Medvedev in the fourth round of the US Open on Sunday
Last Updated: 03/09/21 11:00pm
Dan Evans battled back from two sets down to defeat Australia’s Alexei Popyrin and reach the fourth round of the US Open in thrilling style on Friday.
The British No 1, who retired from his men’s doubles match a day before his third-round tie with concerns over a groin problem, seemed to be feeling the effects of the problem and looked down and out after losing the first two sets against the world No 73.
But Evans showed tremendous spirit to start a monumental fightback before completing a 4-6 3-6 6-3 6-4 7-6 (7-1) victory to equal his best Grand Slam run, which he achieved at the Australian Open four years ago.
The 31-year-old, who arrived in New York on the back of four defeats in his last five matches since Wimbledon after missing the Olympics because he contracted coronavirus, admitted he has suffered from a sluggish recovery process.
He appeared to be staring at a seventh loss in the last 32 of a Slam but dug in and battled his way to a sensational victory after four hours and three minutes.
Evans, who had only once previously come back to win a match from such a position, played a superb final-set tie-break and crouched down with his head in his hands when Popyrin double-faulted on match point.
In an on-court interview broadcast by Amazon Prime, Evans said: “I didn’t think I did a bad job really in the first two sets.
“It was very obvious how he was playing me. I think he dropped a little bit. I still had chances in the first two. In the fifth he started to go back that way, serving a lot better. I played a good tie-break. It was tough. I’m looking forward to relaxing.
“Coming back from Wimbledon where I was poor in the third round, it was difficult. My focus was really third round here once I got there was to put in a good performance today. I could have lost that match pretty easily. I had a great effort regardless so I’m proud of what I’ve done.”
He will now meet second seed Daniil Medvedev, who ripped through Pablo Andujar 6-0 6-4 6-3 for his third straight win in under two hours.
The Russian held the unseeded Spaniard to five points in the first set, putting up just three unforced errors in a stretch of superb play in his bid for a maiden major title two years after he lost in the final to Rafael Nadal.
“The main positive is to win in three sets because Pablo was fighting good,” said Medvedev, who clinched his fourth Masters 1000 title last month in Toronto.
“I was playing good and [I’m] really happy with my level.”