Daniel Evans was played off the field by a scorching Tommy Paul in the duos quarter-final in Montreal on Friday night. But the hard-working Briton remained confident in his consistent game to advance to his second career ATP Masters 1000 semi-final with a hard-fought 1-6, 6-3, 6-4 victory.
“The crowd, that’s what they buy their tickets for. It’s live sport,” Evans said in his post-match press conference. “You never know what’s going to happen. It was an incredible game, an incredible atmosphere. I’ve played on the court before. During the day it was incredible, but at night there is something to do sport at night is very special.”
After Paul filled the highlight reel with his pace and powerful ground game early on, Evans capitalized on the lesser of openings in sets two and three to win both by a single break. The 32-year-old secured an early lead in the deciding set and then crucially escaped 15/40 to move within a game of the 5-3 victory.
Evans saw match point begging dramatically on the return and soaked up a final backhand pass from Paul on serve before finishing the turnover expertly backing a solid serve into the clutch.
“I just didn’t think he could go on like this,” Evans said of his opponent’s blistering start. “If he did, I had to go and shake his hand.”
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In his 4-3 service game in the final set, Evans capitalized on his chance as Paul cut the boards on a mid-court forehand – the kind of ball he feasted on for much of the two hour and 17 minute contest. The world number 39 took matters into his own hands along the way as he headed for the key take.
Evans saved six of eight break points in the match as he held off 41 winners from Paul, who knocked out second seed Carlos Alcaraz on Wednesday. The American moved up three spots to No. 31 in the Pepperstone ATP Live rankings by reaching the quarter-finals, setting himself up for a new career high.
With wins over fifth seed Andrey Rublev and 10th seed Taylor Fritz in the previous two rounds, Evans is in his second Masters 1000 semi-final in as many years. He upset then-world No. 1 Novak Djokovic to reach that stage at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters in 2021 and also reached back-to-back Masters 1000 finals with compatriot Neal Skupski last season (Miami, Monte Carlo).
With the victory in his first ATP Head2Head meeting with Paul, Evans improved his 2022 record to 19-17 and sealed his progress to a second round-level semi-final of the year (Sydney). He moved up 16 places to No. 23 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings this week and also sits No. 23 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Turin.
As he turned the tide in the second set against the American, Evans excelled at winning points from attacking positions, as exemplified INSIGHTS: TennisViz Conversion Stats. His conversion rate of 70% on those points exceeded the ATP Tour average of 66%.
Figure 1: Daniel Evans won 70% of the points played on offense in the second set, exceeding the ATP Tour average.
An all-British semi-final could be on the cards, with #NextGenATP star Jack Draper set to face Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta to close out the evening session in Montreal.
“I hope these boys have a good game,” Evans said. “Jack has incredible talent. He’s going to be there. You’re going to see him here [at the top of the game for] 10 years easy. It’s a big moment for him. I hope he goes there, enjoys it no matter what.
“Carreno [Busta] is a great player, experienced pro. Much underrated. He’s a very tough opponent.”