British men’s No. 1 Dan Evans secures first place in the fourth round after beating Australia’s Alexei Popyrinon at the US Open
- Britain’s No. 1 Dan Evans has finally secured a place in the fourth round
- Evans overcame Australian 22-year-old Alexei Popyrinon on court 17
- Evans came back from 2 sets behind to beat Popyrin 4-6 3-6 6-3 6-4 7-6
Nothing was ever easy with Dan Evans, few athletes seem so adept at grafting and working their way out of a crisis.
This excellent US Open fight went horribly wrong for a while, with Evans going two sets against Australia’s Alexei Popyrin and heading for a head-on collision with the wall that seems to be forever between him and the later stages of the Slams.
But how he turned it around during the four hours of this riveting third-round draw in which he caught and tamed a fine young player and also went against a trend.
British No. 1 Dan Evans has secured a fourth-round place for the first time ever
The world’s number 27 has long had to answer questions about not making it to his position in the Slams – indeed, this was the eighth time Evans has had a crack in reaching a fourth round and six from the previous. seven had ended in loss.
It’s hard to believe that a player of his talents hasn’t made it to that bracket since the 2017 Australian Open, prior to his cocaine ban and all the relief that followed. But that clock can now be stopped, and in doing so, Evans has earned the dubious reward of a game against second seed Daniil Medvedev.
That will be tough on many fronts, not least with regard to Evans’ condition after the slog of this match, which itself followed a Covid attack and the halting of his doubles campaign on Thursday with a groin problem. But he goes on, fighting and making his way to deeper waters.
Life is never dull with Evans and this latest match made for exceptional viewing experiences, combining Evans’ trickery and nous against the power of a 22-year-old Australian who also manages to capture some of the great shots. Ranked 73rd in the world, he may have looked good for Evans, but that posting disguises a game that’s diabolical when numbered. Consistency will come with age, but it’s clear that big runs are already within Popyrin’s capabilities.
At times he was exciting to watch against Evans, who gave up too many easy points on service prior to his revival in the third set. The fourth set was a bloodbath with five service breaks, before Evans took the 7-1 tiebreak in the fifth inning. By the end, Popyrin had dazzled with 77 winners, but Evans’ efficiency, with just eight unforced errors in five sets, took the day.
His start to this marathon couldn’t have been better with a break to love in the opening game, but from 4-2 he was caught in a storm as the Australian won four games in a row.
Evans survived a breakpoint at 0-1 in the second, ending a five-game losing streak, but he soon trailed 3-1 after Popyrin penalized a short serve. The supply became a growing problem, while on the other hand, Popyrin was in possession of a serious weapon.
It was brutally demonstrated in the next game after Evans teased and made his way to 15-40. The next four points were all Popyrin service winners, and a tweener lob in the next game showed that his arsenal has considerably more to it than power. He finished the set 6-3.
Evans leveled up in the third, earning two breakpoints on a 2-1 lead, but Popyrin managed to cling on, sending the older man furiously slamming his racket to the ground. His missed opportunities piled up, with no less than seven breakpoints not converted by Evans since the very first of the game, but a precise lob from his backhand ended that streak at the next opportunity for 4-2.
He drove that wave to 5-3 and a service winner gave Evans the set and a lifeline. The fourth was chaos, with neither man able to serve. There were five breaks before Evans faced it off to 6-4, making the decision, which suitably worked its way into a tiebreak.
Breaks for 3-1 and 4-1 had Evans in control and a double fault from Popyrin gave Evans the win.