Pablo Cuevas was just two points away from losing the match as he recovered from a set and a break down to defeat Britain’s Dan Evans 6-7(4), 7-6(5), 6-4 at the Aegon Open in Nottingham.
This was the pairs first meeting, but Britain’s Evans was on a fine run after defeating Liam Broady in round one and 16th seed Ricardas Berankis yesterday. Meanwhile, Cuevas, seeded second at the tournament, opened his account with a straight sets win over qualifier Stephane Robert 6-4, 7-6(3) in the second round.
Evans starts off slow but finishes strong in the first set
The Brit was under pressure immediately, down 15-40 on serve in the opening game of the match, but the world number 95 found some important first serves to secure the hold. Frustration grew for the Brit in the fourth game after squandering four break point opportunities before receiving a code violation for bad language as Cuevas held. This affected the British number four greatly as he dropped his serve to love before protesting against the decision with the umpire at the sit down.
Evans managed to break back immediately and recovered from 0-30 down in his next service game to move 5-4 in front. The Brit was just two points away from the first set at 15-30 but the second seed responded with a forehand one-two punch winner and an ace to hold. After a hold to love Evans had another look at the Cuevas serve with a 15-30 advantage, but the Uruguayan held firm to take them into a tiebreak, the Brit’s third of the week so far.
Evans secured the first mini break after the second seed’s backhand drifted long. A backhand winner from Cuevas earned him the break back, but a forehand error gave the Brit a 4-2 lead at the change of ends. A double fault from the Brit relinquished his advantage once more, but a couple of errors from the world number 25 secured the set for Evans 7-6(4).
Cuevas comes back as the Brit misses his opportunity
After both players were holding comfortably on serve, Evans pushed home his advantage in the seventh game after a cross court forehand winner earned him an opening at 0-30. Cuevas recovered to 30-30, but the Brit outlasted the second seed in the next two points to secure the break.
A hold to love moved the British number four just a game away at 5-3 and at 15-30 on his opponents serve he was looking to secure victory. Cuevas denied him the chance after a couple of unreturned first serves, before breaking the Brit as well to move all square at 5-5. The world number 95 was under pressure in the 12th game down 15-30, but held to take us into another tiebreak. The players shared mini breaks at the beginning as they changed ends at 3-3. It was a double fault from Evans at 5-5 which proved to be the definitive factor as the Brit lost the set 7-6(5).
The British number four had a break point chance in the second seed’s opening service game, but the Uruguayan saved it with an ace. Neither player could make any inroads into each others service games until the ninth game as Cuevas forced his opponent into unforced errors to secure a pivotal break. The second seed had no trouble closing out the match and putting the last Brit out of the tournament with a 6-7(4), 7-6(5), 6-4 win in two hours and 24 minutes.
The Uruguayan goes on to face the ninth seed Marcos Baghdatis in the quarterfinal, after he too came back in his match against the fifth seed Sam Querrey.