Dan Evans saw six match points come and go in one third-set game as the Briton suffered a 6-3, 3-6, 7-6(4) loss to Miomir Kecmanovic in the second round of the Japan Open on Thursday.
Evans failed to convert his opportunities as his Serb opponent took full advantage at Tokyo’s Olympic venue, the Ariake Colosseum.
Kecmanovic lined up a date with on-form Frances Tiafoe, a winner over Bernabe Zapata Miralles 6-1, 7-6(7).
No. 25 Evans was unable to close out victory over Kecmanovic, the No. 33.
Kecmanovic made his stand as Evans served at 5-4 in the deciding set, with the Serb going on to clinch victory by winning the final four points of the ensuing tiebreaker.
The come-from-behind experience – which included a winning tweener – was a first for the winner: “That was the first time that I was able to do that,” Kecmanovic said. “I was completely tuned out of the match and I just went for it in that moment.”
From 1-4 in the third, Evans won four straight games to bring up an opportunity to serve for the match, ultimately falling one point short in agonising fashion.
“I had a lot of ups and downs, especially in the third set, being up 4-1,” Kecmanovic reflected.
“Somehow I managed to stay in, and thankfully I’m still here.”
Tiafoe, who required five match points, has broken new ground in Tokyo with his quarter-final and remains in the chase to become the first American to win the title here since Pete Sampras 26 years ago.
“I have a lot of shots in the book, so I’m trying to make the match on my terms and have that belief,” Tiafoe said after winning with a dozen aces and saving five of the six break points he faced.
Wimbledon finalist NIck Kyrgios pounded 22 aces and broke four times as he crushed Pole Kamil Majchrzak in a 3-6, 6-2, 6-2 fightback into the last eight.