NEW YORK • Dan Evans, once the black sheep and lost soul of British tennis, became its latest darling on Saturday when he did everything but defeat Stan Wawrinka, the men's third seed, in the third round of the US Open.
The Swiss, who was dominated by Evans for long periods, was forced to save a match point but found unusual resources of his own to win 4-6, 6-3, 6-7 (6-8), 7-6 (10-8), 6-2.
It was tough for Evans, 26, who has never reached the last 16 of a Grand Slam event, and never beaten a top-10 player.
He deserved both and had his chances. In the end, with a painful thigh and ankle, he was physically sold out.
Wawrinka faced match point at 5-6 in the fourth-set tiebreak but won it 10-8 and then raced through the final set.
"It was an unbelievable fight," he said. "I'm for sure lucky to get through that match, saving match point. He played really great, he's really talented and he was really pushing me.
"To finish like that, I'm really happy to get through. It wasn't easy for me to find my best game."
World No. 64 Evans, who was ranked as low as No. 772 in May last year, stunned Wawrinka as he took the match to the two-time Grand Slam champion.
The pair traded breaks at the start of the fourth set but Evans, who surprised Wawrinka with his variety, had match point in the tie-breaker, as the crowd rose to their feet in anticipation of a massive upset.
But Wawrinka saved it with a volley winner, and that proved the last gasp for Evans. The Swiss will next play Ilya Marchenko of the Ukraine.
Wildcard Juan Martin del Potro beat 11th seed David Ferrer 7-6 (7-3), 6-2, 6-3 to reach the fourth round for the first time since 2012.
"I didn't expect to be in the second week of this tournament," the 2009 champion, who won an Olympic silver last month, said after setting up a clash with eighth seed Dominic Thiem of Austria.
"I didn't expect to play at this level in this part of the year. I'm surprising the guys on tour, my colleagues. That's great because I'm seeing I can be dangerous in the future once again."
Having climbed back to world No. 142 after overcoming a series of injuries, the Argentinian needed a wild card to get into the US Open.
His next opponent, a rising star of men's tennis, has a big serve and huge single-handed backhand.
Del Potro, who does around three hours of rehab on his left wrist every day, said Thiem will be favourite.
"It all depends on my physically, on my body, on my game," the Argentinian said. "If I play like this, I will maybe have chance to do a great match against him.
"He's playing really well. He's very dangerous. His backhand is so good. His movements are really fast. It will be an interesting match for me."
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS, THE TIMES, LONDON
US OPEN DAY 8
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