Australian Open 2017: Evans shocks Cilic to reach the third round

Britain’s Dan Evans claimed the biggest scalp of his mercurial career as he defeated giant Croatian Marin Cilic to reach the third round of the Australian Open.

The 26-year-old from Birmingham, who has been criticised for much of his career for failing to maximise his potential, is no longer a stranger when it comes to facing the best players in the world.

Just like in Evans’ match against Stan Wawrinka at the US Open last year, the Brit’s dainty slice and vast variety caused all sorts of problems for Cilic, the world number seven, who eventually succumbed 3-6 7-5 6-3 6-3 in two hours and 57 minutes.

This result marks Evans’ first win over a top 10 player at a major and follows an impressive run to the final at the ATP event in Sydney last week.

The match had a similar feel to the match against Wawrinka in New York, where Evans fought valiantly and had a match point against the eventual champion, before falling short in five sets.

He was able to draw on that experience here, as he convincingly finished off Cilic with little fuss.

It is the first time that Evans has reached the third round in Melbourne and he will face home favourite Bernard Tomic next.

Cilic dominates the first set

After winning his opening round against Argentine Facundo Bagnis straight sets, Evans made inauspicious start against Cilic, dropping serve in the second game of the match.

The Croatian, who won the US Open in 2014, rarely looked troubled on serve in the opening set. His heavy and powerful ball striking from the back of the court allowed him to regularly take control of the rallies, and Evans was left looking answers as he scurried around the baseline.

Yet in the second set the dynamics of the match completely changed. Evans saved two break points in his opening service game but still dropped his serve to trail 3-2 moments later.

Then, for the first time Cilic cracked, handing the break straight back with a couple of loose forehands which allowed Evans to draw level at 3-3.

Evans takes pivitol second

It was a sign of things to come, as the Brit began to extract errors from the Cilic racquet.

Suddenly Evans’ slice backhand started to zip through the court and it visible unsettled Cilic, whose forehand quickly went AWOL.

Evans dug his heels in to save three break points at 5-5 before some wayward forehands from Cilic brought parity to the score line in the following game.

The momentum remained with Evans at the start of the third set, as he broke Cilic again to lead 3-1.

It came when the Croat slapped a mid-court forehand onto the side-line when serving at 15-40. The ball was called in but Evans quickly challenged the decision. On the big screen the Hawkeye system showed that the ball missed by a smidge, handing Evans a crucial break.

From there Evans stepped on the accelerator, powering through the third set without even facing a break point.

Faultless under pressure

Cilic put up more of a fight in the fourth, however Evans was unerring under pressure, saving eight break points in the second game to draw level at 1-1.

The next three games went against serve before Evans once again seized control.

Cilic saved two match points from 0-40 when serving at 3-5. However, on the third he clattered another forehand into the net as Evans claimed a memorable victory.

Evans was later, and unsurprisingly, joined in the third round by compatriot Andy Murray who swept aside Russian teenager Andrey Rublev.

The world number one recorded a 6-3 6-0 6-2 in just an hour and 36 minutes.