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Daniel Evans of Great Britain celebrates after beating Alexei Popyrin of Australia in the third round of the 2021 U.S. Open tennis tournament at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. Image Credit: USA TODAY Sports

New York: Dan Evans came through a punishing four-hour contest to triumph over Alexei Popyrin in a five-setter yesterday but the Briton had more than one Australian to contend with, comparing a chatty fan courtside to their test cricket captain Tim Paine.

Evans came from behind to beat Popyrin 4-6 3-6 6-3 6-4 7-6(1) in a thrilling third round contest that had the crowd going wild at Court 17.

But one particular fan behind Evans’ chair got a special mention and was compared to Paine, who is known for his quips from behind the stumps to unsettle batsmen. Paine has even apologised in the past for what is known as sledging the opposition.

“It’s always nice to beat an Aussie. I think I had Tim Paine behind my chair in every change of end nattering away, an Aussie behind me,” Evans, who faces second seed Daniil Medvedev in the next round, told reporters.

Cricket rivalry

“It was like I had Tim Paine behind me. He obviously wasn’t here,” Evans clarified with a laugh.

England renew their cricket rivalry with Australia in the Ashes series later this year.

While Evans took a dig at the Australian cricket captain, he did heap praise on their former skipper Ricky Ponting, saying his book has inspired him in recent weeks.

“There’s probably a bit of irony in this. I started reading Ricky Ponting’s book at the start of this trip,” Evans said. “I wasn’t feeling great, it’s been pretty inspirational, motivational. I took a few things from that. He had some pretty tough times when he was captain. That’s the reason why I took to the book, because I’d been told about it.”

Asked what he took from Ponting’s book, Evans said: “I was low on confidence. I think from his book, back yourself. It’s obviously a very different game, but I just enjoyed it. I took some things which I’ll probably use now for the rest of my career.”