Coming off his best performance on the dirt, where he reached the Monte Carlo Masters semi-final, British No. 1 Dan Evans came down to earth with a bump in Barcelona, but a break after three back to back tournaments saw him start Madrid with his first main draw win here.
It was by no means easy with the first two sets tightly contested. A brace of breaks in the middle of the first set saw him peg Jeremy Chardy back as quickly as the Frenchman had gone ahead, as well as having to save two set points coming out on top of a topsy-turvy tie-break.
The second set saw Evans have a match point but was unable to get over the line as Chardy pushed him to another tie-break. Two more match points came and went for Evans, before Chardy hauled himself into a decider.
Evans was the first to break in the third set, and finished things off with another break before serving out for a maiden win in Madrid.
Given that their last encounter was a hard court challenger, there is little store to be put on Evans’ lead over Millman in that regard.
Evans has found the patience to deal with this troublesome surface, but Millman is not to be estimated given his victory over Hurkacz in the opening round. Millman is not the best server, but is an ever-present backboard who will run down balls all day long, with his backhand as his best weapon to his counter-punching.
Evans has a lot more variety in the bag and will look to come forward to slice and dice Millman, rather than allow himself to be pulled into gruelling rallies where the Aussie will wait for the errors to come.
He can make this sticky for Evans though, there is no doubt, so it might be another long one.
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