British No3 Dan Evans insisted he has exorcised the ghost of past missed chances after producing a seismic shock at the Australian Open by dispatching former US Open winner Marin Cilic.
Evans, who is ranked No 51 in the world, had never previously beaten a top 10 player at a grand slam but reversed that trend after a pulsating 3-6, 7-5, 6-3, 6-3 victory.
The Birmingham-born right-hander joined fellow Briton Sir Andy Murray, who breezed past Russia’s Andrey Rublev, in round three and will now face 27th seed Bernard Tomic of Australia.
Evans’s triumph was a far cry from the deflating five-set loss he suffered to Stan Wawrinka at last year’s US Open, during which the 26-year-old failed to convert a match point.
“It’s definitely the biggest win of my career,” said Evans, who claimed the maiden top 10 scalp on his way to the Sydney International final last week when overcoming Austria’s Dominic Thiem.
“It’s a proper win. Last week was three sets against Thiem. Five sets is the ultimate test. It was really good and I think I played as well I can play today.
“I still thought about that match [against Wawrinka] on the court today. It’s not easy when you had the opportunity to close out the big match and then lose.
“I thought about it at 40-30, last game, last match point. I didn’t want to go down the other end, sit down and serve for it.”
Evans completed his conquering of Cilic in a shirt noticeable for its lack of sponsors, having been ditched by sportswear giant Nike in December after his existing kit deal expired.
“I just went to the store and bought a load of clothes the other day, plain clothes,” added Evans. “What was it, Sunday? Sunday or Saturday. AUD$19.99 (£12.25) the shirts are.
“I bought about 18, something like that. I went back this morning to buy some more. They’re not the best quality to sweat in and wash. I only wore one shirt today. I’m good until Friday.”
His tussle with Tomic, who the Briton beat in four sets in the last 32 of the 2013 US Open, is set to open old wounds after the Australian’s father claimed that Evans was not good enough to practice with his son.
“I’m not going to bother saying anything about that again,” said Evans. “He confronted me about that. We’ll leave it at that. I’d say it’s a 50-50 match. I’m looking forward to playing him.”
Evans’s win means that he has now reached the third round in three consecutive grand slams and continues his remarkable progress which has seen him climb from 319 in the world rankings two years ago to 51st.