Great Britain’s Dan Evans claimed the biggest win of his career as he upset seventh seed Marin Cilic 3-6, 7-5, 6-3, 6-3 to reach the third round of the Australian Open. The Brit entered Melbourne on the back of his first career ATP Tour finals appearance in Sydney and is no stranger to upsets in Slams, having defeated Richard Gasquet in the first round of last year’s U.S. Open.
It looked like things would go according to form as Cilic started out the match on the front foot with a break of serve in the second game on a fine forehand winner. With the lead secured, the Croat used his serve and heavy ball striking to great effect, never looking troubled as took the opening set 6-3.
The Brit was under pressure straightaway in the second set as he faced two break points, but he saved both. It wouldn’t take long for Cilic to capture the Evans serve again as he broke for a 3-2 lead. The turning point of the match came in the very next game as the Brit broke back when Cilic missed an easy backhand. It would be a pattern that would repeat itself as the set wore on and after saving three break points to lead 6-5, Evans took the second set thanks to Cilic donating his serve with some more wild forehand misses.
The momentum was now on the Brit’s side and he broke in third set, taking the break when Cilic slapped a forehand just wide. Initially, the ball was ruled to have hit the line, but a challenge by Evans showed it missed by fractions. That decision gave the Brit a 3-1 lead. He would be faultless on serve, powering through the set without so much as facing a break point and on set point, he blasted a forehand behind Cilic, clinching a two sets to one lead.
The second game of the fourth set presented Cilic with a massive lifeline as held eight break points to take the lead, but Evans was brilliant in saving all eight and the set remained on serve. The next three game were all won by the returner, but it was the fifth game that proved to be the difference as Cilic dumped a backhand into the net after a long rally to give Evans a 3-2 lead. He would breeze through the final stages of the match, clinching the win when Cilic missed yet another forehand, the Brit through to face 27th seed Bernard Tomic in the third round.
Evans’ strategy of mixing up pace and using different spins and slices worked to great effect as Cilic committed a whopping 69 unforced errors. The Brit also served well, winning 69 percent of his first serve points. Against Tomic, a player known for his variety, he’ll need to do more of the same as he’ll not only be going against his opponent, but the rowdy Melbourne crowd seeking to push their home country favorite into the Round of 16.