US Open 2016: Dazzling Daniel Evans upsets Zverev to set Wawrinka challenge
Dan Evans beats Alexander Zverev to reach the third round of the US Open in New York
There was plenty to catch the eye as the second round of this year’s US Open played itself out on a rain-disrupted Thursday.
Andy Murray, with the bonus of playing under the roof of Arthur Ashe, and in the day match too, was done and dusted by mid afternoon after a quality match against Marcel Granollers.
The popular young No8 seed, Dominic Thiem, one of the most prolific winners on the tour this year, finally made his way to the third round
Former US Open finalist Kei Nishikori continued his progress with a four-set win over one of the rising talents in the game, #NextGen Karen Khachanov, and No14 seed Nick Kyrgios also continued his impressive form against Horacio Zeballos.
But some of the most popular men featured late into the night at Flushing Meadows. Tough for the players, but a huge bonus for the ground-pass fans able to gather round the floodlit courts for some intense contests.
Try the ever popular Grigor Dimitrov taking the full fives sets until almost 11pm to get past Jeremy Chardy on the equally popular Old Grandstand Court.
By then, Juan Martin del Potro was just about putting out the in-form home man Steve Johnson, and most Americans didn’t mind a bit: Few are sorry to see the big man from Argentina regaining the form that won him the title her in 2009.
Still running at gone 11 was the match that would serve up Murray’s next opponent, and probably after the Briton was getting his beauty sleep. Gilles Simon and Paolo Lorenzi were out on court 11 in a five-set tussle that was headed to four and a half hours without a conclusion.
On court 13, No11 seed David Ferrer was locked with Fabio Fognini in a popcorn match that was still only one set apiece. And on court 17, American Donald Young faced the unenviable task of taking on a man who stands a foot taller, Ivo Karlovic. The Croat also this week set a new US Open aces record, and he was two sets up… but far from home and dry.
Yet one of the liveliest contests between two sparky characters, Briton Dan Evans and German teenager Alexander Zverev, had a packed vocal crowd following every point around around the open court 4.
Zverev, a big-hitting 6ft6in star in the making has been tipped by many for the very top.However, GB’s second-ranked man Evans was enjoying a career-high month at 64, and here fresh from winning the Challenger in Aptos and with victories over the likes of Grigor Dimitrov in Washington and Alexandr Dolgopolov at Wimbledon. He had reason to be optimistic, and he bristled with confidence throughout his first-round win, carrying that spirit and energy into this next contest.
He broke Zverev in the first game, held off a break point in the eighth with a lob winner, and held his lead to the 6-4 first set. In the second, Zverev got the first break but Evans broke back, as Zverev became increasingly frantic at perceived wrong line calls, appealed to the umpire time and again, while Evans bustled about the court, focused and intense.
The teenager smashed his racket after losing his advantage in the second set, while Evans calmly asked for the debris to be removed before surging on to win the set, 6-4.
And if the match was not lively enough already, the two men began to needle each other, too. But the quality of some of the tennis was undeniable. And while Zverev may display many characteristics of a teenager, he also has plenty of grit and determination. He broke in the third set to lead 5-2. Evans broke back for 5-5 and looked set to seal the match, only for Zverev to break again, 7-5.
With midnight approaching, almost five hours and fives sets were reaching their conclusion on court 11, with a cramping Lorenzi pulling off an unlikely win over one of the fittest men in tennis. Murray will no doubt rub his hands in glee when he wakes up in the morning.
Meanwhile Evans quickly regrouped, showing no signs of tightness or tiredness. He could not pull off the break in the opening game of the fourth, but did so in the third. Zverev was now hurtling about the court with such speed that he twice fell over, but did not back off. This was a match Evans had to win, and he held firm but bold, firing one winner to stave off deuce for 4-2 and breaking again for a 5-2 lead.
He would serve for the match, and urged himself on: It was unnecessary. He had merely to fire down a couple of big serves, smash one ball away, and hold to love.
He strode off the court first, leaving a bewildered No27 seed gazing into space. This was a turn-up for the 26-year-old from Birmingham, after three hours and nine minutes of consistent, varied and aggressive tennis.
His reward is to face Wawrinka in the next match, and very likely on one of the big courts here. In this kind of mood, he will revel in the opportunity.