Evans knocks out Nishikori
What a difference a year has made for Dan Evans.
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Twelve months ago the Birmingham player was competing at a tournament in Wrexham on the Futures Tour, the lowest rung of professional tennis.
He reached the semi-finals before winning just two games against Tom Burn, a player even the most ardent fan of British tennis probably has never heard of.
On Monday he beat 11th seed Kei Nishikori 6-4 6-4 6-2 to post his first win in the main draw of a grand slam and reach the second round of the US Open.
The result overshadowed a good start to the tournament for 30th seed Laura Robson, who was untroubled by a recent wrist injury as she defeated Lourdes Dominguez Lino 7-5 6-0.
Evans should not even have been in qualifying but a number of players ranked above him pulled out and three wins put him into the tournament proper.
The 23-year-old has shown in Davis Cup the talent he possesses, beating much higher-ranked players to help Britain defeat both Slovakia and Russia in the last two years.
But committing to tennis has been something he has not managed to do for a sustained period of time until now, and he is reaping the rewards.
Evans is refreshingly honest about his own shortcomings but has a cockiness that makes him well suited to the big stage.
Told Nishikori had said he did not know anything about him, Evans responded: "There isn't that much background work you can do on me at the minute.
"It's not that hard to work out how I play after a set, so I think I was just better than him."
How important was holding his serve under pressure at the start of the third set?
"Probably would have won it to four (6-4)," said Evans. He did not appear to be joking.
He has climbed more than 200 places in the rankings in a year, and should set a new career high somewhere close to 150 even if he loses to Bernard Tomic in what should be a cracking second-round match.
Evans has always known he has ability, but getting from Wrexham to New York seemed too difficult a task.
"You don't see a route," he said. "It's a pretty blocked path.
"This just shows the younger boys, it can go pretty quick if you get your stuff together."
Evans reached two big Challenger finals prior to his run here and went into today's match having won 11 of his previous 13 contests.
He was an early break down but levelled at 4-4 and then made it four games in a row to take the first set.
The second was tight but a knifed slice backhand, a shot that troubled Nishikori all match, helped him convert his first set point and he staved off break points at the start of the third before moving into a 3-0 lead.
The Japanese player must have hoped the magnitude of the situation would affect Evans but far from it, and it was Nishikori who crumbled, serving a double fault on the first match point.
Evans said he had felt no nerves adding: "I felt pretty confident all through the weekend that it was a good match-up. I wasn't worried.
"Davis Cup I was pretty nervous, but today it's just for me and the other two guys who are here with me."