Dan Evans feels he is in a no-lose situation after two victories in a day to reach the semi-finals of the Murray River Open.
The British number one is playing himself into form nicely ahead of the Australian Open and followed up a rain-interrupted 6-4 7-6 (4) victory over American Marcos Giron by seeing off fourth seed Borna Coric 7-5 7-6 (1).
Should Evans beat France’s Jeremy Chardy on Saturday to reach the final, he will go into the Australian Open having played four matches in three days.
The 30-year-old said: “Obviously it’s all about the Open but, at my ranking, I have to take the wins when I can get them on the tour, and I’m happy to play two matches in the day. It was a good day.
“Now it’s sort of free money isn’t it. If you lose, you can get ready. If you win, you’re in the final. I’m happy either way. But obviously I’ll be out there fighting to get through.
“It’s difficult to moan, not feeling 100 per cent prepared. We’re lucky we can come out here and just pretty grateful that we are still able to work with everything, which is a disaster at home really.”
No matches were played at Melbourne Park on Thursday after a positive coronavirus test was returned by one of the employees at a quarantine hotel where tennis players were staying.
All the affected players and support staff, including Evans, have since tested negative but it meant a backlog of matches.
Evans had a superb record on the ATP Tour last season and he continued that against the higher-ranked Coric, breaking serve in the 11th game of the opening set and then saving a set point in the second before dominating the tie-break.
Coric became frustrated by the consistency of his opponent and thrashed a wild forehand volley into the back fence on his opponent’s first match point.
On his extra day of quarantine, Evans said: “I think they did a pretty good job. I got on site yesterday late, maybe 7pm, me and Cam (Norrie) had a hit. I prepared for today as if I had a day off yesterday. It wasn’t too much of a distraction.”
Having hit with Norrie on Thursday, Britain’s only two representatives in the men’s singles found themselves drawn together in the first round of the Australian Open.
Evans said: “It’s unfortunate that two Brits play each other. It’s a long way to come to play each other. But it will be a good match. Hopefully I win. It’s a difficult match, though. It’s not easy.
“Obviously Cameron would know me better than most. He beat me last time (at the Battle of the Brits in December) when we were in lockdown in London, so I’m the underdog, so pressure is on him.”
Evans does not expect any awkwardness, saying: “We obviously won’t hit together now. But I’d hope he’ll still say hello to me. There’s some funny tennis players out there. No, he’s all good.
“There will be no etiquette come Monday, though. I wouldn’t want him to feel he has to be polite to me or not be himself. Friendship obviously goes out the window. You’re playing in a grand slam.”
Evans, meanwhile, has not changed his mind about the Tokyo Olympics having said last year he was unlikely to play before the Games were postponed.
“I won’t write myself off but it’s a pretty hectic year,” said the world number 33.