Daniel Evans played with great assurance to frustrate Andrey Rublev on Thursday and book a place in the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships semi-finals.
The Briton, through to just his fourth ATP Tour semi-final — and his first an ATP 500-level, handed sixth seed Rublev just his third loss of the season with a 6-2, 7-6(9) victory over two hours and 11 minutes.
The 29-year-old, who lost to Rublev at the Adelaide International in January, recovered from 1-3 down in the second set and first served for the match at 5-4. He later saved two set points at 5/6 and 8/9 in the second-set tie-break, and finished the encounter on his third match point.
“I made a mess of some of the match points, especially my service game at 5-4 [in the second set],” said Evans. “I just stayed in there and knew I’d get my chances. I’m very happy with the way I played. Staying calm is the key, also getting the right balance and being aggressive with my feet. I’m happy to come through and I’ll prepare for tomorrow.”
When reaching a tour-level semi-final, Evans has gone on to contest three ATP 250-level finals at 2014 Zagreb, 2017 Sydney and 2019 Delray Beach. The World No. 37, who saved three match points in the deciding set tie-break of his second-round victory over Pierre-Hugues Herbert, will now play second seed and 2019 finalist Stefanos Tsitsipas or Jan-Lennard Struff in the Dubai semi-finals on Friday.
Evans carved up Rublev with his backhand slice and with aggression on his forehand, breaking in the first (forehand winner) and fifth (Rublev forehand error) games of first set to leave his Russian opponent frustrated. Evans completed the 50-minute opener, after coming through a 12-minute service game that included five break points for Rublev, who made a forehand error on Evans’ third set point.
Rublev took a 3-1 lead in the second set, but Evans battled back to win four straight games. However, the tables turned at 5-4 when Evans hit a double fault at 15/15 and followed it up with a forehand error. Rublev’s demeanour quickly changed, and he struck two big forehands to break serve at 30/40. Rublev recovered from 1/3 down in the tie-break, but could not convert set points at 6/5, when he hit a tight backhand, and at 9/8, when Evans struck a forehand winner.
The 22-year-old Rublev is now 16-3 on the season, which includes back-to-back ATP Tour crowns last month at the Qatar ExxonMobil Open (d. Moutet) and in Adelaide (d. Harris).
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