Dan Evans still dreaming after flushing out Bernard Tomic
British number two follows up shock first round win with two-hour dismissal of Australian
Dan Evans of Great Britain signs autographs for fans after winning his men’s singles second round match against Bernard Tomic of Australia at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Centre in New York. Photograph: Dan Istitene/Getty Images
Dan Evans celebrates beating Bernard Tomic. Photograph: Dan Istitene/Getty Images
All of a sudden, there are no limits to Dan Evans’s dreaming. As he was leaving the boutique surroundings of Court 17 at Flushing Meadows, having crushed Bernard Tomic in four sets, Roger Federer – whom the Birmingham renegade could meet in the fourth round of this US Open – had not long finished a brief workout on the much grander Arthur Ashe Court, and was extolling Evans’s virtues to an audience of hacks who might not have known if Dan was from Alabama or Warwickshire.
Evans and Federer hit together on Wednesday evening, and neither could complain about the result. Evans, seeded 179, duly accounted for the Australian timebomb Tomic (whose father rejected Evans as a hitting partner in Miami last year), 1-6, 6-3, 7-6, 6-3 in two hours and 20 minutes, and Federer, who has won here five times, put the Argentinian Carlos Berlocq out of his misery in an hour and 35 minutes while giving up just six games.
The Swiss spoke about the possibility of having to beat Evans to get to Rafael Nadal in the quarters, and how they ended up hitting together.
“I didn’t know who Severin (Luthi) or Paul (Annacone lined up for practice,” Federer said. “It was Evans. It was the first time I really got to meet him or play with him. Now I have an idea how he plays, which I guess is not a bad thing. But, at the end of the day, I think we were really just trying to help each other out on a rainy day trying to get a hit in. I thought he played really nice, got a great shot.
“Still, I was a little bit surprised he beat Tomic, because we know what Bernard can do. But great effort from him; to be in the third round of a slam is a huge opportunity. It doesn’t get easier from here, but it should give him a ton of confidence. And it’s great for Britain, no doubt about it.”
Evans, who has a mischievous streak, was nevertheless respectful of Federer. “If I said to any of you guys that I play Federer in the fourth round, you would have laughed at me, so I’m not going to say that. But it was amazing to hit with someone so good. I really enjoyed it. We had a really good hit. It was a very good experience. He’s a nice guy, interested in what I did.”
However, If Federer imagined Evans was overawed – or might be if they meet here – he has a little to learn about him. The British number two has never doubted his own talent, even when his waywardness was undermining it. Here, at the crest of a consistent run of excellent form, he has had that self-confidence confirmed. That is not to say the greatest player of all time will not wipe the court with him, but it will be a contest and it will be fun to watch.
Certainly his joust with Tomic was just that. It was a match that would not have been out of place on Main Street in Dodge City. Tomic, who also wears a metaphorical black hat, was quicker on the draw from the start but Evans was deadly at the finish. While it was a struggle here and there, it was time well spent after his quick first-round upset in three sets against the 11th seed Kei Nishikori. He said then: “That is not enough. I want to win a few more matches here.”
Now he has the chance to deliver and will face Tommy Robredo in the next round.
Evans and Tomic have both struggled in their formative years to find the dedication needed for a convincing breakthrough victory but they left everything on Court 17 dazzling with one magic shot after another. But Evans, who says he is “in the shape of my life”, lasted the better.
There was, however, a moment of embarrassment after the third set when he called the trainer to tape his nipples because he was chafing in the oppressive humidity and heat. “I felt agony,” he said. “I am going to get quite a lot of stick, but it was so painful I had to do it.”
As for the Tomic snub in Miami last year, Evans said: “It was quite funny, actually. I was there playing quallies. His dad sort of fobbed me off and said I wasn’t good enough to practise with him. I remembered that. We spoke about it the other day.
“I know him pretty well, I played juniors with him. But I don’t think it was his doing.”
Maybe not. But this was the sweetest revenge. And we might have a bit more of Evans to savour yet in this tournament.