The players had only met once at tour level back in 2010, where Lithuania played Great Britain in a Davis Cup tie in 2010, with Berankis winning 6-1, 4-6, 7-6(5), 3-6, 6-3. However, Evans won their most recent encounter in the semifinals of an ATP Challenger event in Taipei at the semifinal stages, with the Brit winning 6-3, 7-6(5).
The British number four entered this match off the back of a fine win over compatriot Liam Broady on Sunday, saving three match points along the way. But his Lithuanian opponent was also in fine form after becoming the first Lithuanian-born player to break the Top 50 in the Emirates ATP Rankings.
Bright start from Berankis
The Brit made early inroads into the Lithuanian’s serve at 0-30 and at deuce, but the 16th seed held to level at 1-1. It was Berankis who made the first breakthrough in the match, Evans saved a first break point with a volley winner, but after the Lithuanian struck a service return winner, followed by a double fault from the Brit the break was sealed.
That break of serve began a 10 point streak for the Lithuanian as Berankis moved to 0-40 on the Brit’s serve. Evans saved all three break points with big first serves but a missed forehand at deuce and a double fault handed the 16th seed a second break. The British number four had a 15-30 advantage on the Lithuanian’s serve, but Berankis responded to take the set 6-2 in 30 minutes.
Evans edges his way back into the match
Evans came out fighting in the second set, holding his opening three service games to love. Both players were severely tested in their subsequent service games, with Evans having looks at 30-30 and deuce before having to face a break point on his own serve, which he saved with a forehand winner before holding to move 4-3 in front.
The Brit takes the second set
Evans had another look at the Lithuanian’s serve in the eighth game at 15-30, but once again could not capitalise as Berankis levelled. The world number 95 finally had the break point chances he was searching for in the second set in the 12th game but was unable to take advantage as the players entered a second set tiebreak.
The Brit secured the first mini-break in the tiebreak courtesy of a double fault from the Lithuanian. Evans then donated the break back with a double fault of his own as the players changed ends all square at 3-3. Berankis dumped a volley into the net to trail 4-3 and Evans never looked back, taking the set 7-6(3).
The Brit takes full control
The world number 95 had all the momentum heading into the final set, demonstrating this through ripping a backhand down the line winner to bring up three break points on the Lithuanian’s serve. Berankis saved the first with an ace, but Evans took the second to break his opponent for the first time in the match. The British number four won nine of the opening 10 points in the set as he also held to take a 2-0 lead.
In the fifth game, a double-fault from Berankis gave Evans the chance to secure a double break, but the Brit was unable to capitalise as the Lithuanian pulled back within one game. The British number four made no mistake in securing the double break next time round, capitalising on some unforced errors from the Lithuanian to take a 5-2 lead. The world number 95 had no trouble closing out the match as he booked his place in round three as the last Brit standing following Kyle Edmund’s defeat to Alexandr Dolgopolov earlier.
Evans will go on to face the winner of the match between second seed Pablo Cuevas and world number 73 Stepahne Robert, a qualifier here this week.