Dan Evans has opened his Madrid Masters campaign with a victory over Jeremy Chardy and hopes to emulate if not improve, on his semi-final run at the Monte Carlo Masters a month ago
I've found a medium between being aggressive and not standing too far back. I'm moving a little better on the clay and I've found I can win matches either standing further in or further back as well. I'm playing drop shots a bit more and it's definitely helped Dan Evans
.The British No.1, who had only competed in the Spanish capital once before – and lost – defeated the Frenchman 7-6(6) 6-7(9) 6-2, securing victory on his fourth match point having seen three defended successfully in the second set forcing a decider.
“I’m happy to be through,” said Evans, ranked 26, following his third win over the world No.51, Chardy, this season.
“The first round is always tough but it was a good match and I felt good on my serve.”
But as the score suggests, Evans didn’t have it all his own way during the two hours and 46-minutes it took him to reach the second round.
Chardy controlled much of the first set as Evans recovered an early break and then saved a set point at 4-5 before taking advantage of an untimely double fault from his opponent at 6-6 in the tie-break.
The second set saw Evans holding his serve much more easily and putting pressure on Chardy. But a match point came and went at 5-4 and then two more in the tie-break before Chardy levelled.
However, the world number 26 started the third set positively and broke his opponent twice, sealing it with an ace to go through to the last 32 where he will face either the 12th seed from Poland, Robert Hurkacz or the Aussie John Millman.
“It was a good match,” Evans told Prime Video on-court afterwards.
“I felt a little uncomfortable on return, but I thought I did a good job on serve so happy to be through and the first round is very tough. Happy to be through and hopefully return a bit better the next match.
“I’ve found a medium between being aggressive and not standing too far back. I’m moving a little better on the clay and I’ve found I can win matches either standing further in or further back as well. I’m playing drop shots a bit more and it’s definitely helped.
“I played the Sardegna Open as a training week with my fitness trainer. I didn’t return to the UK. I lost a tough match (a three setter to Lorenzo Musetti) but it really helped to get on the clay. I’ve been smart with my schedule since I’ve not been able to get back to England too much. We’ve got a good balance at the minute.”
Meanwhile teenager Carlos Alcaraz, a local wildcard entry, fought through to the second round where he will meet the five-time champion, Rafa Nadal, his idol.
The 17-year-old fought off Adrian Mannarino’s challenge in the first set to sweep past the Frenchman in the second 6-4 6-0 to set up the meeting with the top seed on his actual 18th birthday!
“I watch Rafa Nadal a lot,” Alcaraz said. “I always wish to play against Rafa, learn from him. I don’t know how to describe this feeling now. Is a dream come true. As you said, I know a little his game. Yeah, I will try to play my best and let’s see what happens.”
Regardless of Wednesday’s result, the teenager is aming to make the top 50 and currently sits at 120.
“I try to improve in each tournament,” Alcaraz said. “Every match help me to grow up as a player. I try to keep the best of each match and try to improve the bad things I did in every match. I feel that I’m growing up in every tournament. I hope to end the season in the best 50.”
Two seeds fell on Monday in three sets. Pablo Carreno Busta (10) lost to the Argentine qualifier Federico Delbonis while Grigor Dimitrov (13) lost in a final set breaker to South Africa’s Lloyd Harris.
In other action John Isner required 28 aces to get past Miomir Kecmanovic 6-4 7-6(6) but his American compatriot Reilly Opelka was dumped out by Germany’s Dominik Koepfer 6-4 6-4.
Also through is American Marcos Giron who had to battle for three and half hours before able to claim a 6-7(8) 7-6(5) 7-5 victory over Pablo Andujar, and Russia’s Aslan Karatsev, who ousted Ugo Humbert and Fabio Fognini wo beat Spanish qualifier Carlos Taberner 7-6(4) 2-6 6-3.