Defending champion Roger Federer reached the Australian Open third spherical for the 20th straight yr on Wednesday however was made to battle arduous by Britain’s Dan Evans earlier than successful 7-6 (7/5), 7-6 (7/3), 6-3.
The ageless 20-time Grand Slam champion, who’s gunning for a report seventh Melbourne Park title and a 3rd in a row, had breezed previous Denis Istomin within the first spherical, however was given a a lot harder examination by the world quantity 189.
“I feel if I might have pulled away early within the match it might need been completely different,” stated the 37-year-old Swiss grasp who wanted 2hr 35min to get previous his 28-year-old opponent.
Evans, whose rating plummeted from a career-high 41 after he was slapped with a year-long ban for testing optimistic to cocaine in April 2017, performed nearly flawless tennis to stave off a set level on his strategy to forcing a primary set tie-break.
He even had the temerity to steer 5-Three within the breaker earlier than Federer stepped up a gear and reeled off the following 4 factors with a cry of “Come on!” as he secured a hard-fought opening set after precisely one hour.
It was harsh on Evans who had dedicated solely two unforced errors and consistently put the third seed underneath stress together with his scampering, attacking recreation and flurry of winners off each wings.
The plucky Evans, who had lined acres of floor and located the traces brilliantly, wanted therapy for blisters on each ft earlier than the second set began and instantly was damaged.
However he refused to lie down and broke again as Federer served for the set to pressure one other tie-break.
“I believed I might need pulled away halfway by way of the second set,” added Federer. “However I couldn’t, to his credit score. He performed effectively.”
The Swiss star hasn’t typically wanted luck throughout his unparallelled profession however he took benefit of some within the third set to lastly ease the stress.
Holding break level at 2-1, he barely scooped up a half-volley which grabbed the web wire and toppled over forcing Evans to go lengthy.
A service recreation to like adopted to place Federer 4-1 up and the courageous resistance of Evans was lastly damaged.
The veteran will subsequent play both France’s Gael Monfils, seeded 30, or American Taylor Fritz within the final 32.