Elegant Evans back in winning groove to see off Russian Rublev
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