Dan Evans suffered a shock defeat at the hands of American qualifier Ernesto Escobedo, with the world number 108 winning 7-5, 0-6, 6-3. British number four Aljaz Bedene also exited the Miami Masters after being forced to retire 7-5, 4-0 down to German opponent Jan-Lennard Struff.
* Article originally published by me for UBITennis.net *
Evans started off brightly, securing an early break, but two poor service games saw him go a set down. The Brit responded, racing through the second set but swiftly found himself 3-0 down in the decider, a deficit which he was unable to comeback from. Meanwhile, fellow Brit Bedene was playing his seventh match in seven days after winning a Challenger in Irving, before heading to Miami to battle through the qualifying rounds and had nothing left in the tank against world number 63 Struff.
Evans got off to the perfect start on Court 7, breaking his American opponent in the first game. Escobedo had served his way to a 40-15 advantage, but a couple of winners of both wings brought the British number two back into the game, capitalising on the server’s errors to take a 1-0 lead.
The world number 43 looked far more in control of his game than his opponent, with the Brit continuing to bring up half chances to break the American’s serve. After failing to secure a double break Evans threw in a loose service game, facing break points. The Brit saved both but a double fault left him facing another. Escobedo capitalised on this chance having had little play on the others, forcing his opponent into an error to level the scores at 3 games all.
Play then went with serve until the 12th game, where Evans suffered a second collapse on serve. The Brit, who reached the fourth round at this year’s Australian Open, made three unforced errors in a row to squander the first set 7-5.
That poor game to finish the set fired the Brit up as he received a warning for racket abuse. The world number 43 swiftly moved to 0-40 on Escobedo’s serve. The American saved the first two, but Evans closed with an excellent backhand cross court passI got winner to secure an immediate break.
The following game proved to be pivotal one in terms of shaping the outcome of the second set after Evans was able to fend off two break points and escape with the hold. After coming away with that game the Brit was able to do what he could not in set number one, and that was to secure the double break.
The British number two did not end his run of games there. A fortunate net cord off a volley brought up two chances for a third successive break and Evans took full advantage, closing with a forehand pass winner to take a commanding 5-0 lead. The world number 43 had a slight blip down 0-30 on serve, but responded with four points in a row to take the second set 6-0 after just 20 minutes.
Just 10 minutes later and there had been another complete shift in momentum out on Court 7 as the American Escobedo came back very strongly, racing into a 3-0 lead, much to the delight of the home crowd.
There was contentious controversy at the end of the fifth game as a line judge accused Evans of swearing at the back of the court. The incident occurred after the Brit had failed to capitalise on two break back chances, following excellent forehand winners on both points from Escobedo. The American had just ripped another forehand down the line to move to game point when the Brit was fined with a point penalty after the accusations of foul language. Evans protested his innocence throughout the change of ends, passionately arguing his case with the umpire, but it was to no avail.
That decision fired up the Brit for his next service game, holding to love, but that could not help him break Escobedo’s serve. The American was able to withstand the pressure and see out the match, completing a fine 7-5, 0-6, 6-3 win.