Evans continues miraculous run
Qualifier advances to Delray Beach final by beating Isner
DELRAY BEACH — Daniel Evans has had to come back from much more than being down a set to a top-10 player in the world.
So when the British tennis player who served a yearlong ban from the sport due to a positive drug test for cocaine in April of 2017 dropped the first set to John Isner at a Delray Beach Open semifinal on Saturday, he knew while he was down, he was not out.
The 5-foot-9 Evans, ranked No. 105 in the world, was able to pull off the David vs. Goliath upset – both in size and stature – against the ATP’s top-ranked American and world No. 9 who stands at 6 feet 10, winning 3-6, 6-2, 6-3 at Delray Beach Tennis Center.
“You’ve got to stay resilient in the sport. It’s so up and down. Obviously, my down was for my own wrongdoing,” said Evans, who has been back for nearly a full year since his return last April. “It can be injuries – I’d say mine was a mental injury – so yeah, stay resilient and keep believing because I’d never imagine I’m back close to the top 100 in such a small amount of time from coming back.”
Said Isner: “He’s a good player, so he’s played a lot of matches and done it the hard way.”
Evans will face either Mackenzie McDonald or Radu Albot, ranked No. 84 and 82, respectively, in Sunday’s 3 p.m. final.
His inspirational run in the tournament continues. After getting into the main draw as a qualifier, he started with an upset over defending Delray Beach Open champion, tournament No. 3 seed and world No. 29 Frances Tiafoe. Evans followed that up with wins Daniel Evans, ranked No. 105 in the world, celebrates with a fist pump after he defeated John Isner on Saturday to advance to the Delray Beach Open final.
over Lloyd Harris and sixthseeded Andreas Seppi of Italy in Friday’s quarterfinal.
“I don’t know about fate, but funny things do happen when you scrape through a first round,” Evans said.
Evans broke three consecutive Isner serves over the second and third sets to seize control. He took the sixth and eight games of the second set and broke Isner in the second game of the third to start with a 3-0 lead before holding serve the rest of the way.
“I got – not lucky – but I started to see his serve pretty well. I wouldn’t say guessing, but sort of anticipating,” he said. “I returned really well when I got my racket on the ball, and that was my goal, just to get the ball back.”
Isner, who had a streak of 31 straight service games won, missed a chance to earn his 400th career match victory at the Delray Beach Open final and remains
“It just got away from me and I played some sloppy games,” said Isner, who goes down in semifinals for the fourth time at Delray. “That was all she wrote.”
Evans has never faced either McDonald or Albot. McDonald, the American, and Albot, of Moldova, both notched quarterfinal upsets on Friday to reach Saturday night’s semifinal.
McDonald edged hobbled top seed and world No.
4 Juan Martin del Potro 6-4,
3-6, 7-6 (5). Albot bounced back to defeat fourthseeded Steve Johnson, also with a dramatic third-set tiebreaker, 1-6, 6-3, 7-6 (5).
Bryan Brothers in doubles final
Twin brothers Bob and Mike Bryan defeated American Jamie Cerretani and Spain’s Marcelo Arevalo 6-3, 7-5 in the
afternoon doubles semifinal on Saturday. They’ll make their seventh doubles final appearance at the Delray Beach Open and go for their fifth title.
The Bryan Brothers are set to face either the AlbotYoshihito Nishioka tandem or Ken and Neal Skupski, who played their semifinal late Saturday after Albot also completed his 8 p.m. singles match against McDonald and received suitable rest in between.
The brothers said they won’t find out who they’re playing until Sunday morning, opting not to stay up to watch the other semifinal.
“We’re senior citizens. We go to bed at 8,” said Mike Bryan on the stadium microphone, adding, jokingly, he hopes the match goes until 4 a.m. Or maybe not so jokingly.
“It’d be nice,” said Mike Bryan, who like Bob is 40 years old. “I know how I play when I don’t sleep. We
could use any help we can get. We’re happy to be in the locker room with the victory before 3 o’clock. We’ve got a lot of recovery time, which we need at this age.”
At 5-5 in the second set, the Bryans broke Cerretani’s serve to then serve for the match and clinch it. They responded after an hourlong rain delay at 3-3.
“We tried to dry our shirts off as much as we could,” said Bob Bryan, who advances to his first final since returning from hip surgery. “We ate sweet potatoes, we ate bananas, electrolytes – all the really fun rituals of an in-between-match delay.”
The Bryan Brothers enter Sunday having won 117 doubles titles together in an illustrious career that has also included 16 major championships.