Dan Evans passes tough test with victory over Fabio Fognini at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships
British No 1 beats Italian 3-6, 6-4, 7-5, while Paire survives four match points to defeat Cilic
British No 1 Dan Evans came through a tough test against fourth seed Fabio Fognini on Tuesday to book his spot in the second round of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.
The Englishman had to rally from a set down to progress, and survived a seesaw third set full of breaks of service, to eventually triumph 3-6, 6-4, 7-5.
The battle on Centre Court lasted 2 hours 40 minutes, with world No 11 Fognini staving off five match points before finally succumbing. Evans moves on to meet Frenchman Pierre-Hugues Herbert.
“It's difficult to play Fabio,” Evans said. “He's such a class player. Just happy to come through, really. I didn't actually get to play my game too much, but it was good.
“Felt like he was on top forever. Good part of my game is hanging in, just staying in the match, really. Points for double break in the second set; just stuck it out.”
Earlier on the same court, eighth seed Benoit Paire survived four match points to defeat Marin Cilic – the first time he’d beaten the former US Open champion in six attempts.
After taking the first set 6-2, Cilic served for the win at 5-3 in the second, but lost the four games as Paire drew level. The former world No 3 relinquished two more match points in the decider, with his opponent taking the tiebreak to win 2-6, 7-5, 7-6.
“It was not easy today,” said Paire, defeated by Cilic at last month’s Australian Open. “I lost five times in a row against Marin. I was not confident before the match – I was not feeling really good, a little bit sick two, three days.
“Really happy to win and to fight until the end. Normally when it's one set, 5-3, I normally tank. This time I tried until the end.
“The only thing is when you play against Marin… he was top 10, he won a US Open, he won a lot of big tournaments, he is not seeded here, and honestly he's very good player. I knew it would be difficult to beat him today. But that's what I did.”
Elsewhere on Tuesday, Novak Djokovic’s dual assault on the tournament ended at the first attempt, with the world No 1 defeated in his doubles match.
Playing for the first time alongside Cilic, the pair were beaten 6-2, 6-2 on Court One by top seeds Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury. The recently crowned Australian Open doubles champions needed less than an hour.
However, Djokovic remains in the hunt for silverware in Dubai, having on Monday marked his first appearance since capturing an eighth Australian Open trophy by cruising into the second round of the singles.
The Serb, a 17-time Grand Slam champion and four-time winner in Dubai, faces German Philipp Kohlschreiber on Wednesday.
Updated: February 25, 2020 10:26 PM