US Open: Stan Wawrinka battles past Dan Evans in five-set epic

Two-time grand slam champion Stan Wawrinka battled back from the brink in his third round match at the US Open to beat Daniel Evans in a five-set marathon, 4-6 6-3, 6-7(6) 7-6(8), 6-2.

World number sixty-four Evans had already looked impressive as he upset Alexander Zverev in the previous round, but the underdog upped his game to go toe-to-toe with Wawrinka for the majority of the match. For some parts he outplayed him, his shot making in the big points was particularly impressive throughout and he was never afraid to go for the big shots in crucial moments.

Wawrinka's champion mentality was the killer in the end, as he took the fourth set tie-break 10-8 after saving a match point, bruising Evans' confidence in the process. The Brit fought hard to try and get back into the final set, but Wawrinka's experience in fifth sets and the improved consistency in his powerful groundstrokes were enough to get him into the second week in New York. 

Slow Start

In the first set, both players were slow to start. In the first five games, both players had opportunities on the return at 30-30 but neither were able to take advantage and the holds continued even though they were yet to settle into the match. The first break points appeared in the sixth game for Wawrinka, but he was unable to find enough consistency in his returns to take them and Evans held. Wawrinka started the following game with some horrible serving and errors that left the Brit with two break points, which were erased with two aces in a row. 

Evans reaches for a backhand (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Evans reaches for a backhand (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Evans mixed up the pace and placement well on his second serves to keep Wawrinka guessing and in turn caused the Swiss to make a lot of errors. Some better signs started to show on the return for Wawrinka as he began to work the points better and with more power but Evans scraped through another hold of serve for 4-4. A horrific service game from Wawrinka gave Evans the opportunity to serve for the first set, looking extremely impressive as he did so to take the first set 6-4. 

Serving Masterclass

Wawrinka reacted well from the disappointment of losing the first set by opening the second set with a hold to love, his ball striking started to look a lot more clean. Evans replied with a good hold of his own and the famous Wawrinka one-handed backhand started firing as he held to love for the second time. A mini-battle in the fourth game saw Evans take a seat to recover from being pulled all over the court by Wawrinka. The Brit challenged the Wawrinka forehand down the line winner just to give himself a breather before serving again, and he eventually came through a very tough game with the help of some excellent play while under pressure. The world number three was trying to push through but the Brit upped his level to stay with him, looking confident as he continued to show smart decision making in the big points.

Wawrinka hits a forehand (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Wawrinka hits a forehand (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Wawrinka got the crowd to fire him up as he held to love for the third time. Evans followed up with his first love hold of the match and Wawrinka answered with his fifth, before he took a medical timeout after rolling over his left ankle slightly during a point. After having his ankle taped, Wawrinka stepped up the aggression on the return of serve as he reeled off five straight points from 0-40 down to break the Evans serve for the first time in the match. Wawrinka held to love for the fifth time and took the set 6-3 without losing a single point on serve. 

Underdog On Top

Evans battled through another service game to open the third set. Wawrinka was pushing hard and was finally getting a better read on the second serve of Evans, but the Brit defended well to save three break points and got some momentum going. Wawrinka had his sixth straight love service game and Evans didn't let it get him down as he had another love service game of his own, he still looked extremely confident and tried to get himself fired up for trying again to get something on the return. The breakthrough finally came in Wawrinka's next service game as his points on serve streak ended at twenty-seven, but he still continued to hold his serve with ease. More chances would come for Wawrinka at 3-3, 30-30, but yet again the world number 64 was unfazed by the occasion as he constructed the crucial point well and held his serve to go ahead.

Evans dictates during a rally (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Evans dictates during a rally (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Wawrinka's hot streak on serve ended as he served to stay in the set. A double fault at 30-30 gave Evans a set point but he quickly corrected the mistake with some massive forehands to stay in the set. After one more tightly contested hold of serve each, the atmosphere on Louis Armstrong Stadium was electric as they headed into a third set tie-break. Wawrinka started the tiebreak by hitting a backhand slice that landed perfectly on the baseline to get the mini-break, but Evans retaliated to win two consecutive points on the Wawrinka serve and kept the mini-break to go up 4-1. A beautiful forehand down the line and a volley at full stretch kept Wawrinka in the tiebreak to come back to 4-3 and he continued to fight hard as he got the mini-break back to level at 6-6, saving three set points in the process, but a costly forehand error gave the two sets to one lead to Evans. 

Battling Back

An error-filled game gave Evans the break straight away in the fourth set, but Wawrinka battled back in the next game to get the break back immediately with some bullying groundstrokes to get on the front-foot. Wawrinka made sure not to make the same mistakes as in the opening game as he held serve easily thanks to some big backhands. Evans fought his way through another hold with some incredible volleys. Both players were beginning to lose rhythm on serve as the double faults began to rack up. A break point opportunity appeared for Evans as a huge forehand and a great move into the net took the time away from Wawrinka. The break point was quickly saved and Wawrinka stayed in touch. The most grueling game of the match followed as Wawrinka fought for three break points that would have given him the opportunity to serve for the set, but Evans kept up his impressive decision making in crucial moments, his great defending, powerful forehands and perfectly timed volleys gave him the hold on his fourth game point.

Wawrinka hits a backhand (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Wawrinka hits a backhand (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

Evans rushed Wawrinka to earn himself a break point but huge serves got the world number three out of trouble as he held his serve with an ace. The turning point of the match came in the fourth set tiebreak. Evans started strong as huge forehands pushed Wawrinka back enough to get an early mini-break. The Brit managed to hold his nerve and keep up with Wawrinka as they exchanged mini-breaks. The nerves began to creep in for Evans as he hit a double fault to level up the tiebreak at 5-5. A Wawrinka error would give Evans a match point for what would have been the biggest moment of his career, but Wawrinka quickly stomped it out with a perfect volley winner. Saving match point seemed to get the world number three fired up and he went on the offensive. Evans defended well to save two set points but an error on the third gave Wawrinka the fourth set and leveled up the match. 

Easy End

The disappointment of losing such a tight set was evident as Evans served first in the decider, his unforced error count was rising and Wawrinka stayed aggressive to get the early break. The Swiss looked to be in trouble at 0-30 but he reeled off the next four points to stay ahead and consolidate the break. Wawrinka raced ahead in the final set with a double break lead that Evans gifted him on his fourteenth double fault of the match. A perfect lob at 30-30 gave the Brit his first game point of the set and he kept a little bit of hope alive as he got his first hold of the final set.

An altercation with the umpire and the trainer gave Evans a little bit of fire back to his game, as he defended well and chased down every ball to get one of the breaks back. Any signs of a comeback were quickly shattered when Wawrinka went on the attack to break again and served out the match to reach the fourth round for the fifth straight year.