Weekly Tennis Review – Evans falls short and Del Potro stunned in Florida

Dan Evans

A sensational week saw British number three Dan Evans claim the runners-up trophy at the Delray Beach Open.

The man from Birmingham cam agonizingly close to lifting his maiden ATP title, after he lost three match points in a final set tiebreak.

Instead it was Romanian world number 52 Radu Albot who won his first tour title.

Albot was able to capitalise on his first match point opportunity and win the tiebreak 9-7. Evans has a lot to be proud of however.

Last April Evans was unranked and returned to the sport following a year’s ban after testing positive for cocaine.

Now, the former world number 41 is close to returning to the top 100.

Furthermore Evans won six matches this week, including one colossal win over world number 9 John Isner.

After trailing a set Evans was able to crush the American number one in the remaining two sets and win the match 3-6 6-2 6-3.

Evans’ wins also included Australian Open Quarter-finalist Frances Tiafoe and Italian Andreas Seppi.

Sunday’s final saw a very close affair, with Evans fighting back from a break down to take the first set out of Albot’s claws. However the 29 year old from this Romanian city of Chișinău bit back as he held firm to take the second 6-3.

Once again Evans fought back from a break down in the third, however went on to lose three match points in the deciding tiebreak before losing out on the title.

“I gave it a good go and it wasn’t good enough,” reflected the 28 year old to the BBC.

“It’s easy to say I didn’t take the match points but I thought he played great in the moments he needed to play great.”

Albot now sits at his career high ranking and very close to entering the top 50 in the world.

The other main story of the tournament was American youngster Mackenzie McDonald beating world number 4 Juan Martin Del Potro in  the quarter-final. It was the Argentine’s first match of the year after breaking a kneecap last fall.

But after a convincing victory over the inform Riley Opelka, Del Potro was also subject to a final set tiebreak loss. The win is 23 year old McDonald’s best yet, despite Del Potro being clearly hampered by his strapped knee.

McDonald was defeated by Albot in the semi-final 3-6 6-0 6-0.

Rio de Janeiro – 18 year old Auger-Aliassime makes breakthrough

Last week also saw the tour take to the clay courts in Brazil.

Laslo Djere won a maiden tour title and gave an emotional speech at the end of the final, dedicating the victory to his late mother and late father who he says had the ‘biggest impact’ on his tennis.

Victories for the Serbian included top seed and 8th in the world Dominic Thiem. The 23 year old Djere’s ranking has shot up from 90 to 37 in just one week.

But despite this it was not Djere that stole the limelight in Rio, but was 18-year-old Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime.

The Montreal-born young gun is another of the up and coming stars. Auger-tAliassime came into the competition ranked just outside the world’s top 100.

However, victories against the world-number 17 Fabio Fognini of Italy in the first round, and Uruguay’s clay-court specialist Pablo Cuevas in the semi-final are two of his best yet.

At such a young age the Canadian found himself in a final that would see him take on the other shock player of the tournament, Djere.

The final took an unorthodox start with five of the six opening game being breaks of serve. Djere however was able to take three of these, and then a fourth in the last game to take the set 6-3. And after being broken straight away, the Serbian fought back to take the set 7-5 and consequently the title.

Auger-Aliassime was able to save four match points before finally losing the fifth.

“My parents had the biggest impact of me, and because of them I am who I am today. I hope they’re watching me now,” remarked the 23 year old in his moving victory speech.

Marseille – No surprises as Tsitsipas clinches title

Lastly, the tour travelled to the indoor hard courts of Southern France.

Fewer surprises here as top seed Stefanos Tsitsipas won his second title. The 20 year old is another player threatening to knock on the door of the greats Djokovic and Nadal.

After defeating Roger Federer at the Australian Open, the Greek’s form seemed to have taken a wobble, being followed up by loses to Gael Monfils and Damir Dzumhur.

Tsitsipas was more than impressive however, winning all four of his matches in straight sets.

His semi final saw him defeat former world number seven David Goffin 7-6 (1) 6-2.

Mikhail Kukushkin of Kazakhstan was a surprise opponent in the final.

The 31 year old has just reached a career high of 39th in the world and Denis Shapovalov and French youngster Ugo Humbert on his way to the final.

Despite being broken once in the second set however, Tsitsipas look strong from the start to the end of the final. Both sets were close and grueling, but the number one seed took the match 7-5 7-6(5).

“This week, I can say I am really happy because I felt this hunger back again,” said Tsitsipas, referring to the losses he had suffered after the win of his career against Federer.

Written by Michael Gillett (@michaelBGJourno)