Evans con­tin­ues mirac­u­lous run

Qual­i­fier ad­vances to Delray Beach fi­nal by beat­ing Is­ner

South Florida Sun-Sentinel (Sunday) - - Sports - By David Furones [email protected]­tinel.com / @DavidFurones_

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

at 398.

“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.

AN­DREW PA­TRON/BIGSHOTS PHOTO

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