MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Britain’s Dan Evans came from a set down to upset seventh seed and former U.S. Open champion Marin Cilic 3-6 7-5 6-3 6-3 in the second round of the Australian Open on Wednesday.
The gutsy world number 51, who reached his first ATP Tour final in Sydney last week, prevailed in a shade under three hours on Court Three to set up a contest with Australia’s Bernard Tomic.
Ranked in the 700s only a couple of years ago, Evans was grinning from ear-to-ear after securing the biggest win of his career on his third match point.
The 26-year-old, wearing mismatched kit after his clothing sponsorship deal expired, then let out a huge roar as he came off court.
“It was a relief obviously,” he said. “Obviously getting across the line against him. In the (best of) five sets... is a big thing for me to sort of last. It was great to win. Just great to win.”
Cilic, who won his sole grand slam crown at Flushing Meadows in 2014, mixed 55 winners with 69 unforced errors and was able to convert just three of 19 break points during the match.
The Croatian had looked firmly in charge in the first set, though, when Evans also had to deal with an insect flying into his eye.
Gradually, however, Evans started to neutralise the 28-year-old’s big weapons and the energy Cilic used up in his gruelling five-set victory over Jerzy Janowicz in Monday’s opening round and the cool conditions became factors.
”I mean, he’s obviously seventh in the world,“ Evans added. ”I knew I could win (but) he was giving me a good hiding at the start. Yeah, just hang in there.
“Obviously it got quite cold out there. He struggled to hit through me. Yeah, got the win.”
Evans scored his first ever win over a top-10 player as recently as last week, beating Austria’s Dominic Thiem en route to the Sydney final.
“Last week was (in best of) three (sets)... against Thiem,” said Evans. “Five sets is the ultimate test, I think. It was really good. I think I played as well as I can play today. I was really pleased with how I played especially towards the end of the match.”
Reporting by Nick Mulvenney, editing by John Stonestreet and Pritha Sarkar