Brit Evans upsets Nishikori in US Open 1st round

British qualifier Daniel Evans’ tattoo was mocked by Laura

Robson, so he questioned some of her hairstyle choices.

British tennis is all smiles these days. At the site of Andy

Murray’s breakthrough last year, Evans notched the first big upset

of this U.S. Open.

Ranked 179th, Evans stunned 11th-seeded Kei Nishikori in

straight sets, 6-4, 6-4, 6-2, in Monday’s first round. The two

players are both 23, but their careers share little else in

common.

Nishikori was already playing in his 17th major tournament,

coming in with a 25-16 record that includes a run to the

quarterfinals at the 2012 Australian Open. Evans was making his

debut at the U.S. Open and had been 0-2 in Grand Slam matches, both

coming at Wimbledon.

A year ago at this time, Evans was playing a minor-league

Futures event back home. He believed he could reach the sport’s

highest levels.

”But you don’t see a route,” he said. ”It’s a pretty blocked

path.”

He had been showing hints of a breakthrough in recent months.

Evans was a late addition to the Great Britain Davis Cup team in

April as the country tries to return to the top level of the

competition. He wound up beating a much higher-ranked opponent in

straight sets in the final match to clinch the squad’s comeback

victory.

Evans was ranked 325th in the world at the time. He climbed 156

spots in just over four months.

”I knew I was a good player, but I just hadn’t put it all

together,” Evans said. ”I was pretty calm today. It wasn’t that

much of a big deal what was happening on the court. I wasn’t

nervous serving it out. I played another good match. I’ve played

some good matches for the last five weeks. It was just like I

really want to go far in the tournament, win a few more

matches.”

Evans was playing well coming into U.S. Open qualifying,

reaching the final at two straight minor-league Challenger events.

But that’s a long way from the main draw at Flushing Meadows.

He had to rally from a set down in his final match of qualifying

to make the field.

After all that, Evans wasn’t totally sure what day of the week

it was when he took the court against Nishikori. But he was the one

who felt more comfortable.

”He has no pressure,” Nishikori said. ”He was playing a

little aggressive, and I was kind of tight.”

Robson, the highest-ranked teenager in the women’s game, is

seeded for the first time at a Grand Slam event. The 19-year-old

got off to a shaky start Monday before beating Lourdes Dominguez

Lino 7-5, 6-0.

Asked afterward if there was anything she didn’t like about

Evans, Robson joked: ”He’s got a Jesus tattoo. I mean, if you’ve

ever spoken to him, he’s really not the most religious person. That

doesn’t make a lot of sense to me.”

Evans later sent this volley back: ”I’m not sure on her

hairstyle sometimes, but, hey.”

It’s easy to kid around after major wins.