Dan Evans crashed out of the BNP Paribas Open after he let slip a set and a break lead against Diego Schwartzman, the world No 15. Evans lost the final 10 games as he was defeated 5-7, 6-4, 6-0 in the third round in Indian Wells.
Evans was second best in the opening stages of the match until he demonstrated the court sense that has helped him climb the rankings. After Schwartzman broke early in the first set to take a 5-2 lead, Evans took a step back, lengthened the rallies and challenged the Argentinian to hit through him on the notoriously slow Indian Wells courts.
His backhand slice slowly began to weave its way into Schwartzman’s mind, testing his patience in lengthy exchanges played out primarily in the deuce court and from 2-5 down Evans flitted through the set to clinch it 7-5.
His run of games ended at seven as he took a 7-5, 2-0 lead, maintaining his consistency to frustrate Schwartzman. But as the second set continued Schwartzman, who had spent much of the prior 30 minutes chuntering in the direction of his box, slowly composed himself while across the net the toll of grinding through one of the most durable players on the tour left its mark on Evans.
The momentum shifted with the score at 7-5, 4-2 to Evans as Schwartzman broke back with a slick backhand drop volley. He quickly rediscovered his confidence, taking the ball early as he moved a tired Evans around the court and never looked back. From 2-4 down in the second set, Schwartzman breezed through the final 10 games to take the match.
Evans had arrived in Indian Wells with the chance of breaking into the top 20 for the first time in his career as points from the 2020 French Open, which was played in October last year because of the pandemic, will be removed from the rankings next week. He is 20th in the live rankings but with this defeat he will now have to rely on results of those around him.
In the women’s draw the 10th seed, Angelique Kerber, continued her strong end to the year by defeating Daria Kasatkina 6-2, 1-6, 6-4 to reach the fourth round. Despite being a former world No 1 and winning three of the four grand slam tournaments, Kerber’s search for her first career WTA 1000 title continues.