In his third match against Andrey Rublev this year, Daniel Evans recorded his second victory against the Russian to make a winning return to the ATP Tour at the Western & Southern Open on Sunday.
The British No. 1, playing at a career-high No. 28 in the FedEx ATP Rankings, raced through the deciding set to claim a 7-5, 3-6, 6-2 victory after two hours and 32 minutes. Evans, who improves to 12-5 this year, has now recorded six Top 20 wins in 2020.
“It was a long one. It was just tough to get rid of him really. He was hanging around,” said Evans. “I played some good tennis and some average tennis as well. I didn’t serve great, but I hung in and got the win.”
Earlier this year, Rublev defeated Evans in three sets en route to the Adelaide International trophy. Evans gained his revenge at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, beating the Russian to reach his first semi-final of the year.
Evans will face two-time Western & Southern Open semi-finalist Milos Raonic for a place in the third round. Raonic fired 19 aces to beat Sam Querrey 6-4, 6-4 in his first-round match on Saturday.
“[It will] probably be a less physical match… It will be a difficult match,” said Evans. “Everybody knows how good he is. I will be looking to put my game on the court and try to beat him.”
After failing to consolidate service breaks at 3-3 and 4-4, Evans earned a third straight break at 5-5 with powerful back-to-back forehands. The Brit held his nerve in the next game and clinched the first set after 68 minutes with a pinpoint backhand passing shot down the line.
Rublev made a quick start to the second set, stepping in on his forehand side to take time away from his opponent and break for a 3-1 lead. Despite dropping serve in the next game, the four-time ATP Tour titlist gained a second break at 4-3 and forced a decider with his fifth ace of the match.
Evans played with consistent depth and dictated rallies with his forehand to claim a 3-0 advantage in the deciding set. The 30-year-old hit consecutive backhand winners to earn his sixth service break at 5-2 and a place in the second round.
Grigor Dimitrov also advanced to the second round at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. The 2017 champion recovered from 1-3 down in the second set to beat Auckland champion Ugo Humbert 6-3, 6-4.
Dimitrov will face Marton Fucsovics in the second round. The Hungarian converted three of four break points to secure a 6-3, 6-4 win against fellow qualifier Norbert Gombos.