Andy Murray supported two British players at the same time as Dan Evans scraped through the second round of Australian Open qualifying but James Ward crashed out.
After scorching temperatures exceeding 40 degrees Celsius on Wednesday, players had to endure rain, cold and wind in Melbourne as Evans beat Israel’s Amir Weintraub 7-5, 6-7 (4/7), 6-2 and Ward lost to American Dennis Novikov 6-4, 7-5.
Earlier in the day, British No 3 Naomi Broady was also knocked out, losing 6-3, 2-6, 6-3 to France’s Alize Lim.
Murray, wrapped up in a hoodie and coat, placed himself in the top corner of a near-empty stand on Court 8, where he could cheer on Evans while also cajoling Ward, who was fighting a losing battle next door on Court 11.
It was past 10pm by the time both matches had finished and Evans appreciated the support from the world No 2, who was joined by Davis Cup captain Leon Smith. Evans said: “I did notice, it was nice of him, it’s late and it’s a good effort, I will thank him for that.
“It’s unbelievable to come out, it’s freezing cold, the chance of getting ill – it’s a good effort.”
Evans, Britain’s No 5 and ranked 185th in the world, was typically unpredictable, accompanying moments of excellent stroke-play with sloppy unforced errors.
The 25-year-old blew three match points in the second set but recovered in the decider and will now face America’s Bjorn Fratangelo on Saturday for a place in the main draw.
“It was one of those matches where I couldn’t get going. I got nervous, that’s pretty much it,” Evans said.
“I haven’t played for a while in this sort of place but I want to do well. With the wind, I must have served 20 double faults easy [it was actually 13].
“That was the thing that was a bit demoralising. 40-0 and then serving for it again at 6-5. It was almost a bit embarrassing at times.”
Evans was also unhappy with a small band of Weintraub’s supporters, whom the umpire went over to censure in the second set after the Briton had complained they were deliberately putting him off.
“One guy coughed on break point on my ball toss. But I’m through, and that’s good,” he said.
Ward was unable to join his compatriot in the final round after seeing his serve broken three times.
Broady also struggled to cope with the blustery conditions, serving 10 double faults against Lim. That means Johanna Konta and Heather Watson will fly the flag in the women’s competition. Murray, seeded second, Aljaz Bedene and Kyle Edmund are already in the men’s event.