By Ros Satar
- Dan Evans [Q] def. John Isner [2/WC] 3-6 6-2 6-3
- Evans v Radu Albot
- Evans has reached a second ATP Tour final, while this is Albot’s first attempt
DELRAY BEACH – Dan Evans eased past John Isner to set up a maiden ATP Tour title clash with Radu Albot.
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Dan Evans [Q] def. John Isner [2/WC] 3-6 6-2 6-3
Dan Evans had made hay in the Delray Beach sunshine by taking advantage of the windy conditions in Florida to use his backhand slice to great effect over the week, coming through two rounds of qualifying and taking out defending champion and No. 3 seed Frances Tiafoe in the first round, No. 6 seed Andreas Seppi in the quarter-final.
Next was the No. 2 seed John Isner, on home soil and having put behind him a pretty lacklustre start o the year with better results while back in the US. Certainly from the start it seemed as though Isner had sussed out the Evans slice and was managing to deal with that and the conditions well. The American broke quickly for a 3-1 lead and never looked likely to be troubled as he wrapped up the first set.
The second set saw a more confident looking Evans settle into his game, as he took advantage of the first break point chances he had seen on the Isner serve, breaking for a 4-2 lead. He backed that up with a second break to take the second set with a fourth game on the spin.
That momentum stayed with Evans as he reeled off another three games to go up 3-0 before Isner finally managed to stop the run of games against him. But by now the damage had been done, with Evans staying ahead and never being troubled by an obviously distracted Isner, who spent a lot of time making his support team know he not enjoying the rest of his time out there.
As reported in ATPTour.com, Evans said, after the match: “I started to see his serve pretty well. I wouldn’t say I was guessing, but I was sort of anticipating and I got it right. Other days I could be looking stupid going one way and he puts it the other way.”
“I returned really well when I got my racquet on the ball, and that was my goal. Just to get the ball back and get the running shoes on.”
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Evans v Radu Albot | First Meeting
It will be another first time clash for Evans, this time against Moldova’s Radu Albot, in his first ATP Tour final. He has previously reached two semi-finals (Metz last September, and Montpellier this year) but had been sorely over-awed on both occasions.
Albot had to come from a set down against home-crowd favourite Mackenzie McDonald 3-6 6-0 6-0 to book his spot in the final.
He told ATPTour.com: “It’s tennis, you have to win two [sets]. You lose one, you still fight, and that’s what I was doing. I’m really happy that I could win the second and third. I’m really happy that I could win [those sets] 6-0, 6-0.”
Albot lists David Ferrer as one of his inspirations and has tried to model his game on the gritty grinder, and being of a similar stature to Evans, we can expect the pair to cover a lot of court. Albot will try and send every ball back and will fight for everything, so Evans would be wise to bin the griping antics he displayed in his last final against the vastly more experienced Gilles Muller in Sydney 2017, and concentrate on the matter in hand.
Evans, at his focussed best has flair and variety, and will need to work tired legs hard to stay with Albot, and he elaborated: “I just play every match as it comes, every point, every game. It sounds very cliché but… I’m just playing every match. It’s not about beating John, it’s not about beating [Andreas] Seppi. The ball is coming and I’m just trying to focus on myself. I’m moving well, I’m playing pretty good, so I think I’m difficult to play.”
There was no doubt nerves were a factor in Sydney for Evans, who was enjoying his best period of life on the tour before throwing it away by testing positive for cocaine later that year. The expectation ought to be on the higher ranked Albot, but Evans is far more capable than his ranking would suggest.
Prediction: Evans in three sets.
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