El­e­gant Evans back in win­ning groove to see off Rus­sian Rublev

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Sport - By Si­mon Briggs tennis cor­re­spon­dent

Dan Evans was en­joy­ing a ca­reerbest se­quence when the Covid-19 lock­down be­gan in March, climb­ing to a new high of No28 in the world.

Yes­ter­day, re­turn­ing to the of­fi­cial match court for the first time in six months, he kept up his win­ning mo­men­tum.

On the far side of the net from An­drey Rublev – the Rus­sian whose racket-head speed could be the fastest in the game – Evans cov­ered a huge amount of ground in pun­ish­ingly hot con­di­tions.

He also made Rublev’s serve look de­cid­edly sec­ond rate as he broke re­peat­edly on the way to a 7-5, 3-6, 6-2 vic­tory.

“It was tough to get rid of him,” said Evans af­ter­wards.

“He was hang­ing around, I played some good tennis and some av­er­age tennis as well, didn’t serve great.

“But I am happy with how I played in the third set.”

Rublev was the favourite on pa­per. He is the world No14, as well as the 10th seed at West­ern and South­ern Open – the build-up event be­fore next week’s US Open.

He does, how­ever, have a prob­lem with Evans’s foot­speed and touch-heavy game.

This was their third meet­ing al­ready this year, and Evans has won the past two.

Evans’s vol­ley­ing skills have of­ten drawn com­par­i­son with those of Tim Hen­man, Bri­tain’s six-times grand slam semi-fi­nal­ist, who was in the Ama­zon Prime stu­dio yes­ter­day to com­ment on the match.

Hen­man sug­gested that a place in the world’s top 20 was now re­al­is­tic for Evans, but mak­ing it into the top 10 – given his rel­a­tively short stature and lack of out­right power – could prove a chal­lenge.

Evans will now go on to play Mi­los Raonic, the big-serv­ing Cana­dian, in the sec­ond round.

Mean­while, Andy Mur­ray is due to re­turn to the court to­day against Alexan­der Zverev, the world No7, while Jo­hanna Konta en­ters the event against Kirsten Flip­kens of Bel­gium.

Good mo­men­tum: Dan Evans made An­drey Rublev’s serve look sec­ond-rate as he beat him 7-5, 3-6, 6-2

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