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Australian Open: Dan Evans is delighted to help Andy Murray fly the flag for Britain

By Paul Newman

Like every other British player of the last decade, Dan Evans has grown used to living in the shadow of Andy Murray, but for once the 26-year-old from Birmingham upstaged his Davis Cup colleague.

Both men reached the third round of the Australian Open, but it was Evans who stole the show with a stunning 3-6 7-5 6-3 6-3 victory over the World No.7 Marin Cilic to earn a meeting with Australia's Bernard Tomic.

Murray, meanwhile, brushed aside Russian teenager Andrey Rublev, winning 6-3 6-0 6-2, though the World No.1 suffered an ankle injury in the third set. He next plays Sam Querrey of the United States.

"I think I played as well as I can play," Evans said after claiming the best win of his career. "I was pleased with how I played, especially towards the end."

The last time Britain had two men in the third round here was in 2002, when Tim Henman beat Greg Rusedski. If Kyle Edmund beats Pablo Carreno Busta today, Britain will have three men through to the last 32 for the first time since the draw was expanded to 128 players.

While Murray was setting about his task in Rod Laver Arena, Evans was completing his victory in the outpost of Court 3.

Cilic, who uses his 6ft 6in frame to hit some huge serves and ground strokes, is at his best when opponents give him pace, but Evans chipped his returns and made more use of his backhand slice than usual. Forced to generate his own power, Cilic made 69 unforced errors.

Cilic hit six unreturned serves in his first two service games and broke Evans at the first attempt. The Croatian took the first set in just 33 minutes.

Cilic also made the first break in the second set, but Evans soon broke back to level at 3-3, saved three break points when he served at 5-5 and then broke again to take the set.

The momentum was now with the World No.51, who made the only break of the third set to lead 3-1. Cilic saved two set points in holding serve for 3-5, but Evans served out to love.

Cilic, a former semi-finalist here, forced eight break points in a marathon second game at the start of the fourth set, only for Evans to save them all. The Briton broke serve in the next game as Cilic double-faulted.

With nerves perhaps starting to jangle, the next two games also went against serve, but Evans broke the pattern by holding to lead 4-2. At 3-5 Cilic went 0-40 down, after which he saved the first two match points but netted a forehand on the third.

"It was great to win," Evans said. "Getting across the line against him over five sets is big.

"I knew I could win, but there was no point sprouting off. He was giving me a hiding at the start. I just had to hang in there.

"I was a bit taken aback at how hard he hit the ball. I had to get in the match and hang in at the start of the second set."

Murray, who had made a patchy start in beating Illya Marchenko on Monday, was in much better form against Rublev.

There was only one break point in the first set, which Murray converted in the sixth game, but the Scot turned on the style in the second set. In the third game of the third set, however, Murray fell and turned his right ankle, but did not appear to have too many problems in seeing out the victory.

"I don't think I've done too much damage," Murray said. "It's alright, just a bit sore. I'll see how it feels when I get up."

Murray watched some of Evans' match and was impressed. "He did great," Murray said. "He was moving well, fighting really hard. He had to do a lot of defending from the bits that I saw, but he was moving well and putting in a lot of effort. It's obviously a great win for him, the biggest of his career I'd imagine."

Belfast Telegraph


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