In terms of British tennis, Dan Evans and Cameron Norrie’s victories on Thursday, following those of Andy Murray and Jack Draper 24-hous earlier, means that for the first time since the world rankings were introduced in 1973, Britain has four players listed in the top 50!
I don't see why we can't keep going Cameron Norrie
The ‘Fab Four’ as they are now being referred to, have reached the fourth round of the US Open giving Britain four men in the last 32 in New York for the first time since 1933.
But the two who completed this foursome were given some early reality checks in their respective victories.
Seventh seed Cameron Norrie saw off Portugal’s Joao Sousa 6-4 6-4 7-6(4) while Dan Evans defeated James Duckworth of Australia 6-3 6-2 4-6 6-4.
British No.2 and seeded 20th Evans, at 32 like Murry at 35, might be in the latter stages of their respective careers, has no desire to retire and admits he is enjoying the success he is currently reaping, especially at the bigger events on the Tour.
In fact, the world number 23, has shown a strong liking for the North American hard courts, feeling more relaxed after “not particularly enjoying” the increased scrutiny he attracted during Wimbledon.
A run to the Montreal semi-finals – the second time he had reached the last four of a Masters event – was good preparation for the US Open but a tough first round loss in Cincinnati rather dampened his spirits two weeks from the start of the last major of the season.
Last year Evans reached the fourth round at Flushing Meadows, matching his Grand Slam career best run to the last 16 recorded at the 2017 Australian Open.
Now he is one more victory away from equalling that highlight, but his next opponent, the 2014 US Open champion from Croatia, the big-serving 15th seed Marin Cilic, will prove a tough hurdle to clear.
Cilic took out Spain’s Albert Ramos Vinolas 6-3 7-6(8) 6-2 to reach round three.
Evans was dominant on Court 12 in the opening two sets against Duckworth, only dropping the third after he lost his serve for the first time in the match.
The momentum seemed to be swinging the way of the 30-year-old Duckworth when he broke for a second time at the start of the fourth and go into a 3-1 lead before Evans picked up his game to turn the set back in his favour and clinch victory with a stunning running backhand winner down the line to reach the last 32.
Following his win, seventh seed Norrie, who reached the Wimbledon semi-finals in July, matched his 2020 career best at Flushing Meadows.
“I think it’s very cool to have four of us through, and especially all of us supporting each other. It’s great,” said Norrie when his win completed the make-up of Britain’s tennis Fab Four.
“I don’t see why we can’t keep going.”
On this occasion Norrie didn’t play his best tennis but it was more than good enough to see-off the 59th ranked Sousa.
After the pair traded breaks early in the match, Norrie captured his opponent’s serve again towards the end of the first set and moved further ahead with a single break in the third game of the second.
From that point, particularly with 33-year-old Sousa struggling with a shoulder problem which subsequently required attention, Norrie was expected to roll through to victory.
But that didn’t prove to be the case as he conceded his own serve in the sixth game of the third but he recovered his focus and concentration to turn it back around to clinch overall victory in the tie-break.
“I thought I didn’t start that well. I was pretty nervous in the match, pretty tight,” Norrie admitted.
“I managed to play good in the big points throughout the whole match. Felt like at the end of the sets I really raised my level.”
Norrie goes on to play Denmark’s Holger Rune, who was given a walkover into the third round when the big serving American ace machine John Isner withdrew with a fractured wrist.