Dan Evans slipped to an agonising marathon defeat in the cold of the French Open after being edged out of a topsy turvy first round by former world No 4 Kei Nishikori.
With temperatures lagging in the mid-fifties Fahrenheit on the first day of the rescheduled Grand Slam, the British No 1 went down 1-6, 6-1, 7-6, 1-6, 6-4 to the 30 year-old from Japan.
For a while it looked like that Evans would emerge the winner from a battle that lasted three hours and 49 minutes, and it is one of several tight matches in recent weeks that have got away from him.
Dan Evans suffered first-round disappointment at the French Open following a five-set defeat
Japan’s Kei Nishikori was able to fend off the resilient Brit to advance to the next round
Evans found himself having to fight from behind after Nishikori took a 2-1 lead at the third-set
He will look forward to getting on quicker terrain for what remains of the season.
Although ranked higher, an Evans win would have been considered an upset given their very contrasting history of clay court results.
Nishikori has reached the quarter finals at Roland Garros three times, and the last-16 on another three occasions, while Evans has traditionally struggled on the slower surface.
Evans set up a thrilling finale after a dominant fourth-set performance taking it to a fifth-set
Nishikori bounced back in the final-set 6-4 to progress to the second round of the French Open
Yet he will look back at certain points of the match and know he could have clinched it against a player with little recent form to fall back on.
Evans served for the third set after coming back from 2-5 down, and had a break point at 3-3 in the decider which he could not convert.
In the end the famed quality of Nishikori’s service returns just about got him through a match played before a few dozen spectators, given that only 1,000 were allowed in across the whole site.
Jo Konta and Andy Murray were due to play their first rounds later on Sunday.
It was frustration for Evans after a rollercoaster of a match which lasted just under four hours
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