Britain's Daniel Evans rides wave of solid play into semifinals in Montreal

britain's daniel evans rides wave of solid play into semifinals in montreal

Daniel Evans of Great Britain hits a backhanded return against Tommy Paul of the United States Friday night at IGA Stadium.

Daniel Evans hopes the overflow crowd at IGA Stadium received its money’s worth Friday evening as he and Tommy Paul provided two hours and 17 minutes of entertaining tennis before Evans punched his ticket into Saturday’s semifinal of the National Bank Open with a 1-6, 6-3, 6-4 victory.

This was a match of ups and downs. Paul dominated the first set, lost the second on a single service break and fought off three match points before Evans, a 32-year-old from Britain, held his serve and reached the semifinals of a Masters 1000 event for the second time in his career.

“Those moments in the match when the crowd’s into it, that’s why they buy their tickets,” Evans said. “He saved a match point on my serve (in the final game) and that’s not what I wanted to happen, but that’s what life’s about. It was an amazing match, amazing atmosphere. I’ve played on the (centre court) before, but in the day. It was amazing, but there’s something about playing sport at night that’s extra special.”

Evans said he wasn’t concerned when Paul easily won the first set.

“It was a 6-1 set, but I didn’t think he could carry that through the match and, if he did, I’d have to walk up there and shake his hand,” Evans said. “I had points to hold my serve to start, but he was just too good.

“I don’t think there was a turning point,” Evans added. “He missed a few balls in the third set and then I really stayed on him and there was a lot of pressure on his serve.”

Evans said he was happy with his play this week, which included wins over fifth-seeded Russian Andrey Rublev and 10th-seeded Taylor Fritz of the U.S.

“If someone tells you they don’t care about their position in the tournament, they’re lying,” Evans said. “It’s always in the back of your head what part of the tournament you’re in. I was happy to be in the quarterfinals and I won and I’m in the semis. It’s why you play, it’s why I’m out here fighting each day with the training and the practice and, if it stops in the semis, so be it and I go on to Cincinnati.”

Evans will meet the winner of a late match between two other unseeded players — Pablo Carreno Busta of Spain and British qualifier Jack Draper.

The afternoon semifinal Saturday pits fourth-seeded Casper Ruud of Norway against eighth-seeded Hubert Hurkacz of Poland.

Ruud spoiled Friday afternoon for local fans when he crushed sixth-seeded Montrealer Félix Auger-Aliassime 6-1, 6-2, while Hurkacz outlasted Australian Nick Kyrgios 7-6(4), 6-7(5), 6-1. Hurkacz is also in the doubles semifinal with countryman Jan Zielinski.

Evans started the week ranked No. 34 and the win Friday guarantees he will move up to at least No. 23 when the new rankings are released on Monday.

After he did his post-match interviews, he was back on the court later Friday to play a quarterfinal doubles match with Australian John Peers.

phickey@postmedia.com

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