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Murray cheers on fellow Brits Down Under

By Tom Allnutt

Published 15/01/2016

Aussie tussle: Dan Evans won his qualifier in Melbourne
Aussie tussle: Dan Evans won his qualifier in Melbourne

Andy Murray supported two British players at the same time as Dan Evans scraped through the second round of Australian Open qualifying but James Ward crashed out.

After scorching temperatures exceeding 40 degrees Celsius on Wednesday, players had to endure rain, cold and wind in Melbourne as Evans beat Israel's Amir Weintraub 7-5 6-7 (4/7) 6-2 and Ward lost to American Dennis Novikov 6-4 7-5.

Earlier in the day, British number three Naomi Broady was also knocked out, losing 6-3 2-6 6-3 to France's Alize Lim.

Murray, wrapped up in a hoody and coat, placed himself in the top corner of a near-empty stand on Court 8, where he could cheer on Evans while also cajoling Ward, who was fighting a losing battle next door on Court 11.

It was past 10pm by the time both matches had finished and Evans appreciated the support from the world number three, who was joined by Davis Cup captain Leon Smith.

"I did notice, it was nice of him, it's late and it's a good effort, I will thank him for that," Evans said.

"It's unbelievable to come out, it's freezing cold, the chance of getting ill - it's a good effort."

Evans, Britain's number five and ranked 185th in the world, was typically unpredictable, accompanying moments of mouth-watering stroke-play with some sloppy unforced errors.

The 25-year-old blew three match points in the second set but recovered in the decider and will now face America's Bjorn Fratangelo tomorrow for a place in the main draw.

"It was one of those matches where I couldn't get going. I got nervous, that's pretty much it," Evans said.

"I haven't played for a while in this sort of place but I want to do well. With the wind, I must have served 20 double faults easy (he served 13)."

Evans was also unhappy with a small band of Weintraub's supporters, whom the umpire went over to censure in the second set after the Briton had complained they were putting him off.

"I don't know who they were, just idiots, coughing," Evans said. "One guy coughed on break point on my ball toss. But I'm through, and that's good."

Ward was unable to join his compatriot in the final round after seeing his serve broken three times in a match lasting an hour and 26 minutes.

Broady also struggled to cope with the blustery conditions, serving 10 double faults against Lim, as she was beaten in round one. It means Johanna Konta and Heather Watson will fly the flag in the women's draw today.

Murray, seeded second, Aljaz Bedene and Kyle Edmund are Britain's guaranteed representatives in the men's competition.

Two matches on the same day proved too much for Heather Watson as the defending champion bowed out of the Hobart International in the quarter-finals.

Having successfully got past Monica Niculescu after returning to finish her rain-affected match against Monica Niculescu, she could not get past Sweden's Johanna Larsson in a match which started just before midnight.

The Briton won the first set 6-3 but ran out of steam to lose the next two sets 6-4 6-4.

Belfast Telegraph

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