Dan Evans in stunning win over Marin Cilic

January 18, 2017

British success in the Australian open continued on day three, as Dan Evans produced another superb performance to knock out world number seven Marin Cilic.

Having reached the final of the Sydney International tournament last week - defeating Dominic Thiem along the way - Evans arrived in Melbourne in fine fettle, but few would have expected him to defeat the 2014 US Open winner.

Indeed, the match started as expected as Cilic took the first set 6-3, but Evans started to change his game plan after that as he approached the net frequently, took the pace off the ball and kept hitting the ball down the centre to deny Cilic any angles for his booming passing strokes. 

The pressure told as Cilic finally gave up the crucial break to lose the second set 7-5, and Evans followed it up to take the third 6-3. 

Evans had to fend off break points in his opening service game of the fourth before breaking the Croat, but he was immediately broken back. However, the Briton then secured the further break he needed and ended up taking the set 6-3 to spring the biggest surprise of the tournament so far. 

While Cilic was often the author of his own misfortune - making 69 unforced errors - the fact that Evans has now beaten two players in the world top ten in the first month of the year suggests that fans booking corporate hospitality for events such as the Aegon Championships at Queen's Club in June can expect plenty of British quality to back up the stellar efforts of world number one Andy Murray.

Murray himself had an easy passage to the third round as he breezed past Russian teenager Andrey Rublev 6-3, 6-0, 6-2. However, there was drama in the final set as the Wimbledon champion went down clutching his ankle and had to call the trainer soon after. 

After the match, Murray played down fears that he might have suffered a tournament-threatening injury, commenting: "I definitely rolled it a bit and I'm sure I'll get some ice on it. I was moving OK. I can put weight on."

Murray will now face a third round match against American Sam Querrey, who knocked Novak Djokovic out of Wimbledon last year, while Evans is up against Australian 27th seed Bernard Tomic.

Evans was also due to feature in the doubles alongside another Aussie, Nick Kyrgios, but Kyrgios has pulled out with an injury after stumbling to a defeat against Italian Andreas Seppi, succumbing in five sets after being two sets to love up.

Writing in his column for BBC Sport after his match, Murray said he knew how Rublev felt, having made his own debut in the Australian Open as a 19-year-old against Rafael Nadal. 

He also had plenty of praise for Evans, commenting: "I haven't spoken to him loads about his tennis. He has a team around him that is doing such a fantastic job.

"If he keeps doing what he's doing, who knows where he could end up? It's exciting to see how good he is going to be. We still don't know what his limit is."

It could just be that tennis watchers around the world will soon find out the answer.

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