Evans loses thriller; Murray outlasts Lorenzi

By Jake Davies

  • Dan Evans loses epic five set match to Stan Wawrinka [3] 4-6 6-3 6-7 (6) 7-6 (8) 6-2
  • Andy Murray survives brief scare to Italian Paolo Lorenzi 7-6(4) 5-7 6-2 6-3
  • Murray takes on No.22 seed Grigor Dimitrov in the fourth round on Monday
NEW YORK, USA – Andy Murray battled his way to the fourth round but it could so easily have been a double header as Dan Evans took the fight all the way to third seed Stan Wawrinka.

 

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Stan Wawrinka [3] defeats Dan Evans 4-6 6-3 6-7 (6) 7-6 (8) 6-2

Evans came close to a career-defining win as he lost out in an absolute classic to the two-time Grand Slam champion Wawrinka in five sets.

Evans, now 26, played with no fear against a player that is ranked substantially higher than him but that had no effect on Evans on the Louis Armstrong stadium. The signs of a potentially regular Top 50 player was clear to see as Evans laid it all on the line under the lights in New York.

A win for Evans would have pushed him inside the Top 50, which would have signified the first time he’d broken the Top 50 mark – Evans was outside the Top 700 a year ago. His change in strategy throughout the long periods of the match was impressive to watch as he tried to find a way to get every inch out of his game when required. The variation on the backhand side caused Wawrinka a lot of problems, mainly because he was never seeing the same ball and prevented him from letting rip on the backhand at will.

The match turned into a special, memorable match in the fourth set tiebreaker. Evans earned a match point that arrived deep into the tiebreak but a volley of rich quality saved the first and only match point that the Briton had in hand. The fourth set tiebreaker showed the improvement in Evans’ game in unfamiliar surroundings, but also emphasised the courageous play of Wawrinka when his stay at Flushing Meadows was in severe danger.

Wawrinka even pulled out a second serve ace at 8-8 in the tiebreaker. The result of the fourth proved terminal for the ambitions of a fourth round showing for Evans, who simply had nothing left in the tank going into a fifth set.

Evans had called for the physio midway through the fifth set but the physio refused to give him treatment because he felt that Evans was cramping. The look of resentment on Evans’ face told a thousand stories and he channeled that anger to break for the first time in the fifth set. It was all too little too late as Wawrinka saw off the set at 6-2 and progressed into the fourth round.

What a tremendous week it has been for Evans. Now he is situated just outside the Top 50 in world tennis and pushed one of the elite players in the world to a fifth set at a grand slam.

The aftermath of such a result and it’s developments will be intriguing to witness as Davis Cup captain Leon Smith now has a very interesting decision to make for the Davis Cup semi-final in Glasgow in the coming weeks. Both Evans and Kyle Edmund have pushed their names to the forefront of Smith’s mind as to who gets the second singles position against Argentina in two weeks time.

With Edmund joining Murray in the last 16, it is the first time in 50 years that two British male players have made the US Open fourth round – an incredible moment for the progression of British tennis outside of the achievements of Murray.

 

Andy Murray [2] defeats Paolo Lorenzi 7-6 (4) 5-7 6-2 6-3

Murray, who is trying to become the fourth man to reach four Grand Slam finals in a calendar year, struggled enormously against a motivated Paolo Lorenzi. Murray hit nearly 50 unforced errors in the first two sets, but regathered himself before delivering a more assured match in the final two sets.

Lorenzi played inspired tennis beyond what he has played over the years on the ATP circuit. The Italian had lost 13 grand slam first round matches in a row before he could get his name in the winning column, and had only won two grand slam matches before this year’s US Open.

It was an embodiment of a true David vs Goliath story as Lorenzi performed on a rare occasion at the biggest stage of them all in professional tennis. One of the more surprising sights for the relentless energy that Lorenzi was showing during point after point. He had just played a long five setter against Gilles Simon in the previous round, so many anticipated we would not get Lorenzi in his finest condition.

Lorenzi definitely surprised Murray throughout the long exchanges. Even during a brutal 42 shot rally it seemed that Lorenzi was never going to throw in the towel against a player ranked 38 places higher than him in the ATP rankings.

Murray changed his game plan in the most pivotal part of the match, where Lorenzi had some momentum upon taking the second set and it allowed Murray to find a way to win once again. He waited for his opportunity to find the right ball to strike rather than forcing the envelope and creating unnecessary unforced errors.

Next up for Murray is No.22 seed Grigor Dimitrov, who has a win over Murray this year.

 

Andy Murray [2] vs Grigor Dimitrov [22]

Murray has now won 25 of his last 26 matches dating back to the Queens Club tournament back in June – his only loss coming to Marin Cilic at the Cincinnati Masters. Dimitrov, who is experiencing a tournament of resurgence, dealt a three set loss to Murray in the Miami Masters this year.

Since then, Murray has been on a tear, making the final in seven of the last eight tournaments he has played, which many have suggested is the best form he has ever displayed on a tennis court.

Murray enjoys a positive 6-3 H2H against the Bulgarian but some of his losses have definitely been some that have stung immensely. One of the three losses came in the Wimbledon 2014 quarter-finals, where Murray seemed vacant on court. One of the rare matches where Murray gave no real impression throughout the entirety of a tennis match.

That was a period where Murray was experiencing a tough road back to his better days as he had taken time off to have minor back surgery during September of the 2013 season.

Dimitrov will show flashes of brilliance but should not be an issue for Murray in a Best of 5 format in 2016.

Prediction: Murray in four sets.

 

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