Dan Evans’ US Open run came to an end with a four-set defeat by former champion Marin Cilic in the third round.
Evans was hoping to match last year’s string of performances at Flushing Meadows when he reached the last 16, but on Saturday he came out on the losing side of a near four-hour tussle on Court 17, going down 7-6 (11) 6-7 (3) 6-2 7-5.
The British number two will rue the three set points he missed in the first-set tie-break, with Cilic just proving the stronger at the big moments.
Cilic rising 💪
Don't look now but our 2014 champion is into the second week again. pic.twitter.com/AkAvKbX63N
— US Open Tennis (@usopen) September 4, 2022
The pair had met once before, at the Australian Open back in 2017, when Evans won in four sets and went on to reach the fourth round of a slam for the first time.
It is now eight years since Cilic won the title here, and he is in the latter stages of his career, but he has been in good form this season, particularly in a run to the semi-finals of the French Open.
The most memorable moments in the early stages of the match came courtesy of an over-enthusiastic fan. Evans eventually complained to the umpire, leading to a chant of ‘Kick him out’ from other spectators.
Evans was having to work hard to stay on level terms and he saved two set points to send the opener to a tie-break.
He then created three chances to win the set but could not take any of them, double faulting on the third.
Cilic, his repetitive ball bouncing pre-serve frequently reaching double figures, was showing nerves too, but on his fifth chance he finally clinched a set that lasted an hour and 22 minutes.
The second was just as competitive, with Evans getting the early break he craved only for Cilic to hit back.
The Croatian looked to be on his way to a two-set lead when he broke his opponent again to lead 6-5 but Evans is a supreme fighter and he hit back to force another tie-break, which this time he took.
Cilic reset himself well at the start of the third, using his greater power to gain the upper hand again, and Evans was staring down the barrel in the fourth.
He saved a match point brilliantly at 4-5 with a backhand down the line but three more arrived in his next service game and this time Cilic was not to be denied.