By Ros Satar
- Dan Evans def. Andrey Kuznetsov 6-2 3-6 6-3
- Will face Gilles Muller in the final
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – British No. 3 Dan Evans fought past Andrey Kuznetsov to earn a spot in the Sydney Apia International final.
Dan Evans def. Andrey Kuznetsov 6-2 3-6 6-3
Evans looked driven from the start of the match, breaking the Andrey Kuznetsov to love in the opening game and despite a brief lull after consolidating for a sudden rain shower, he resumed with a second break for a 3-0 lead. The Russian came back at him to get one of the breaks back before Evans stamped his authority on the first set, racing on to ease the first set.
Maybe there was an element of playing the scoreboard as Evans started to allow himself to get distracted by the sound of a child in the stands. Kuznetsov took advantage of a lull in Evans’ concentration to break Evans for a 3-1 lead in the second set. The Brit mounted a come-back with a break of his own before Kuznetsov rallied to level the match. It was a case of who would blink first, with a first ATP title on the line for both players.
It was Evans who made the first move, breaking for a 3-1 lead in the decider, and holding on to that advantage to set up his first shot at an ATP title, where he will face sixth seed Gilles Muller.
As reported in ATPWorldTour.com, Evans said after the match: “It was a good match. I played really well, actually, throughout the whole match… I thought he started pretty slow. I got up pretty early on him, so it was ideal for me. But then, obviously, he’s in the semis for a reason. He came back at me, so it was a tough night.
“I know (Gilles) pretty well. Obviously, he has a great serve. He likes to come forward. It’s going to be a different match. It won’t be so fatiguing, actually. It will be sort of very stop/start. He’ll be hitting a lot of aces, so we’ll see.”
Dan Evans v Gilles Muller  – First meeting
Expect there to be some nerves but for who the greater? While this is Evans’ first ATP final, Muller is 0-5 in career finals, including two last year in ‘s-Hertogenbosch and Newport.
As we have seen this week, given Evans’ three-setters he plays an aggressive game and his movement in general, and not just at the baseline is quick and sure. He will need to have his return game sharp – Muller is known for his big serve and he will look to match Evans on the aggressive front.
Evans’ talent has never been in doubt, but his commitment has been. The trappings that come from the success have certainly helped him focus, along with his work with Mark Hilton. This title is certainly within his grasp, and with no disrespect to Muller, he has youth on his side. Muller is fighting a losing record in finals so if Evans can swing freely and find his opportunities to trap Muller towards the back of the court, he could win this – but expect it to be a nervy battle.
Prediction: Evans in three sets.
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