Britain’s Dan Evans claims first ATP title in Murray River Open

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Dan Evans claimed his first ATP tournament by defeating Canada’s Felix Auger-Aliassime in the final of the Murray River Open in Melbourne on Sunday.The British number one enjoyed a perfect warm-up to the Australian Open, which begins on Monday, by beating the Canadian 6-2 6-3.

Evans, ranked 33 in the world, had made two previous ATP finals – in Sydney in 2017 and Delray Beach in 2019 – but lost both.The perfect end to a perfect week 👏🎥: @TennisTV | 🇬🇧 Dan Evans | #MurrayRiverOpenpic.twitter.com/qHjvwfOgRR— ATP Tour (@atptour) February 7, 2021The 30-year-old from Birmingham made it third time lucky, however, upsetting the 21st-ranked Auger-Aliassime in 1 hour 17 minutes.“Of course I wanted to win one, but today was just another match, really,” said Evans. “I approached it in that way.“Yeah, everybody wants to win. It’s a great feeling to win. But you know, it’s a pretty unique situation we’re in where I was warming up today and normally in the final you’re warming up there’s nobody around, but here you just about find a spot to warm up because everyone is getting ready for Australia.“So yeah, it was good to be out there and win, but like I said last year, this year I wanted to do well in the bigger events. I didn’t have great grand slams last year, albeit a strange year, but my focus is on this week now.”Dan Evans makes a forehand return on his way to victory (Andy Brownbill/AP)The victory was not without its anxious moments, with Evans serving for the match at 5-2 in the second set only to be broken.But he immediately hit back to break the third seed in the subsequent game and secure the win.Evans dominated his 20-year-old opponent in most facets of the game, with 73% of his service points to Auger-Aliassime’s 53%, and winning 47% of return points compared with the Canadian’s 27%.The Briton played a consummate match overall, dropping just the one service game to Auger-Aliassime’s five, refusing to allow his opponent to get into any rhythm, and with his backhand slice in particular exerting pressure on the Canadian, who committed 32 unforced errors.The long-awaited win for Evans came despite the fact he is playing without a coach while in Australia.Evans makes one of the many backhand returns which kept the pressure on Auger-Aliassime throughout the match (Andy Brownbill/AP)Evans split from mentor Mark Hilton last year after the coach decided to take up a full-time role with the Lawn Tennis Association.Evans had a trial with Australian Chris Johnstone ahead of this week but it did not work out, leaving the 30-year-old with only his girlfriend and an Australian-based friend in his team.Auger-Aliassime was bidding for his first title in his seventh final.

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