The look on Daniel Evans‘ face after Alexei Popyrin double-faulted down match point on Friday was a mixture of excitement, relief and in a way, disbelief. The packed crowd at Court 17 — as well as the dozens of fans trying to sneak a look in at the action from outside the court — roared as the Briton jogged to the net to shake his opponent’s hand.
Evans had just rallied from two sets down for the second time in his career, defeating the Aussie 4-6, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4, 7-6(1) after four hours and three minutes to reach the fourth round of the US Open for the first time.
A career day for Dan Evans!
The 24th seed had reached the third round at Flushing Meadows in three of his previous four appearances, and it appeared he would be stopped in the Round of 32 once again. But after a gutsy performance full of emotions, Evans found a way to take a 2-0 ATP Head2Head series lead against Popyrin.
It was a thrilling match, with its double-fault ending unfit for the quality of the encounter. Both men got the New York crowd on its feet with their shotmaking and sheer effort. And although Evans showed his frustration at points and even chucked his racquet as he fell behind, the 31-year-old kept fighting, and that paid dividends as he set a clash against second seed Daniil Medvedev.
This five-setter was a contrast between Evans’ guile and Popyrin’s power. But both players looked for every opportunity to move forward, with 136 net trips between them.
Popyrin blasted 77 winners, but Evans unbelievably made just eight unforced errors. And in the biggest moments — especially in the fifth-set tie-break — Popyrin was unable to keep the ball in the court, while Evans took advantage of every opening in a rally given to him.
Both men put their head in their towel while sitting in the chair after the match. Evans was thrilled with his victory, while Popyrin was devastated by his defeat.
This will be the first ATP Head2Head clash between Evans and Medvedev. The Briton will try to make his first major quarter-final, while the Russian is continuing his pursuit of a maiden Grand Slam title after reaching the final here two years ago.