US Open: Dan Evans qualifies but James Ward & Elena Baltacha out

By Piers NewberyBBC Sport at Flushing Meadows
Dan Evans

Dan Evans gave Britain a fourth player in the main draw of the US Open with a superb qualifying win over Spain's Adrian Menendez-Maceiras.

The 23-year-old from Birmingham won 6-7 (3-7) 6-4 6-2 in the third round of qualifying at Flushing Meadows.

James Ward and Elena Baltacha had earlier fallen at the final hurdle with agonising defeats.

Defending champion Andy Murray, 30th seed Laura Robson and world number 77 Heather Watson qualified directly.

Evans has been in the best form of his career in 2013, helping Britain to a remarkable Davis Cup win over Russia, and reaching the third round at Queen's Club and two Challenger finals in North America over the summer.

And he capped that run by qualifying for a Grand Slam for the first time under the floodlights of Court Eight at Flushing Meadows at just after 8pm local time on Friday.

"I'm pretty proud of my efforts, not just here but I've been [in North America] now nearly six weeks, so to lose first round then final, final and to qualify is pretty good," he said.

"I'd never been in the last round of qualifying before but I knew I was better than the guy - it was just getting it out there. I should have really won the first set but I'm pretty happy with how I came back and in the end it was pretty straightforward.

"It was always in me but it was just putting it all together and I'm pretty proud of that. I need to just carry on and hopefully I'll get a decent draw in the main draw and try to win a few matches."

Evans surged into an early 4-1 lead against Menendez-Maceiras, ranked five places lower at 184, but was broken from 40-0 and went on to drop the opening set in a tie-break.

The Briton had been the better player for much of the set, however, and continued in that vein as he broke to love in game three of the second and closed out the set with cross-court forehand winner.

It a came down to a decider and it was one-way traffic as Evans powered on, building a 5-1 lead and closing out the win on his third match point, with Davis Cup team-mates Colin Fleming and Jamie Murray among the vocal courtside supporters.

Evans will play Japan's 11th seed Kei Nishikori in the first round next week.

Ward, the British number two, had earlier led by a break in the final set but lost 6-3 3-6 6-4 to India's Somdev Devvarman.

The 26-year-old was visibly upset as he made his way off Court Seven after seeing a great chance to qualify at the US Open for the first time slip by.

Ward, ranked 175th, looked to have turned things around after battling back from a set and a break down, reeling off six straight games to lead 2-0 in the decider.

Devvarman, 28, remained a tough opponent to break down, however, and the world number 113's steadier game ultimately won the day as he broke back in game six and clinched victory after two hours and 15 minutes.

Baltacha, ranked 244 as she makes her way back from injury, went even closer than Ward, serving superbly as she took the first set against Michelle Larcher de Brito of Portugal and recovering from 3-0 down in the second to serve for victory at 5-4 before going out 4-6 7-5 6-1.

De Brito, who knocked Maria Sharapova out of Wimbledon in June, had been driven to distraction at times, smacking the net and the back fence with her racquet in anger, but she gathered herself to win three straight games and force a decider.

The final set was closer than the score suggests but Baltacha could not contain the 20-year-old Portuguese, who secured her place in the main draw after two hours and 31 minutes.