Defiant Evans starting to find best form
THE rehabilitation of Dan Evans took another step forward here today as the 28-year-old Briton reached the second round of the Australian Open by beating Japan’s Tatsuma Ito 7-5, 6-1, 7-6.
Nine months after returning to the sport following his one-year ban for a drugs offence — and nearly two years after his last match in the main draw of a Grand Slam tournament — Evans gave a fine demonstration of his undoubted talent to secure a second-round encounter on Wednesday against either Roger Federer or Denis Istomin.
Evans did not even have a world ranking when he returned to the game last April, but worked his way back into the top 200 by the end of the year.
That was good enough to secure a place in the qualifying tournament and he went on to book his spot in the main draw by winning three matches here last week.
Ito, wh o a l s o c a me through the qualifiers, had treatment during the match for a problem with his left thigh, though the world No150 went on to play his best tennis in the final set before Evans won the tie-break 10-8 on his third match point.
Evans said that at different times he had been expecting Ito to retire, only to see the Japanese pick up his game in the latter stages.
“I p l aye d p re t t y we l l , e s p e c i a l ly towards the end,” Evans said. “But I’ve obviously got to try and be smarter on the court, like when I get a chance, to take it straight away.”
Evans said he did not feel quite back at his best form but said he was getting there slowly “by the day”.
Cameron Norrie, the British No2, was unable to build on his run to the final of the ATP ASB Classic in Auckland last week. He conceded an early break and was beaten 6-3, 7-6, 6-2 by Taylor Fritz, who will be his doubles partner here later this week.
Determined: Britain’s Dan Evans