Australian Open: Roger Federer battles through against Dan Evans

Dan Evans shakes hands with Roger Federer

Australian Open 2019
Venue: Melbourne Park Dates: 14-27 January
Coverage: Daily live commentaries on the BBC Sport website, listen to Tennis Breakfast daily from 07:00 GMT on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra and watch highlights on BBC TV and online from 19 January.

Britain’s Dan Evans succumbed in three sets after pushing defending champion Roger Federer hard in an entertaining Australian Open second-round match.

Evans, ranked 189th in the world, lost 7-6 (7-5) 7-6 (7-3) 6-3 against the 20-time Grand Slam champion.

But he never looked out of his depth, impressing the Rod Laver Arena with his shot-making.

Federer will play Taylor Fritz in the third round after the American dispatched France’s Gael Monfils.

“I couldn’t pull away early in the match – it helps when you can sneak in a quick break,” said third seed Federer, who at 37 is aiming to become the first man to win seven Australian Open titles.

“He played very well. It was hard to pull away, to his credit. I thought I played well.”

‘Like playing myself in the mirror’ – Federer impressed by Evans

Roger Federer waves to the crowd

British number four Evans, ranked inside the top 50 before a drugs ban, is aiming to climb back up the rankings as he continues his comeback.

And the 28-year-old showed he still has all the tools to cause problems against the world’s best.

Federer was particularly impressed with Evans who, like the Swiss great, has a game heavily reliant on a sliced backhand.

“It felt like playing in a mirror a little bit. That was the mindset I had – how would I play myself potentially,” the Swiss said.

Evans had never taken more than five games in a set off Federer in their two previous meetings, bettering that on Rod Laver as he took Federer into a first-set tie-break.

The Briton had been relatively untroubled on serve until the 12th game, swatting away Federer’s first break point of the match with a serve and volley and going on to hold to take the set into the decider.

Evans refused to be passive and took on Federer as he raced into a 5-3 lead with a wonderful cross-court forehand winner, leaving him with the set on his racquet.

But, despite landing two first serves having managed only a 56% first-serve percentage previously, he was undone by Federer’s brilliance.

Federer, knowing he was fighting for survival, upped the tempo and forced Evans to miss two difficult volleys.

Evans entertains as Federer’s class shines through

Federer built on that momentum by breaking Evans in the very first game of the second set, although the Briton missed a chance of his own in the fourth before the pair continued to trade games.

But Federer earned another opportunity on Evans’ serve in the ninth game – this time for the set.

Evans drilled two forehand winners to save two set points, but few in the crowd expected anything other than Federer to serve it out next game.

So there was genuine shock on Melbourne’s show court when Federer double faulted to give Evans two break points, before Evans put away a backhand winner to level for 5-5.

Two games later we were in another tie-break – Federer taking control early on for a 3-0 lead and, after a brief Evans rally, sealing a two-set lead with an ace.

The third set was far more straightforward for the six-time champion, who turned it in his favour with some magic in the fourth game.

At 40-0 down, he casually knocked a pick-up past Evans and that was the catalyst for him to fight back and break his opponent.

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BBC Sport – Tennis

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