Stefanos Tsitsipas (#4) will play Andrey Rublev (#6) or rising Norwegian Casper Ruud in his third Masters 1000 Final tomorrow and hopes the number three proves lucky, after needing just 68 minutes to end Dan Evans’ red-hot tournament in Monte Carlo – with an impressive 6-2, 6-1 win.
After three-set wins over Dusan Lajovic and David Goffin, sandwiched between straight-set victories to stun Miami Open winner Hubert Hurkacz (#13) and a returning Novak Djokovic, Evans had certainly earned the first Masters 1000 semi-final of his career the hard way.
The only problem? He was facing a bullish Tsitsipas in similarly fine form, already runner-up on two previous occasions at these big events (Toronto 2018, Madrid 2019) before his 21st birthday.
Evans immediately found himself under pressure here and did very well to save two early break point opportunities, though it proved a false down as Tsitsipas’ powerful onslaught continued.
Despite being 3-1 down early, Evans broke straight back and had a 40-15 advantage on serve with the chance to level the scores again at three-apiece.
He didn’t know it at the time, but that would prove the closest they’d come again for the remainder of a match that quickly got away from Britain’s world number one.
Tsitsipas won five of the next seven points to take a 4-2 lead, predicated on excellent shot defence and court coverage, frustrating an increasingly animated Evans.
Shortly afterwards, two double-faults on serve helped the Greek to a 6-2 first set.
He wasn’t content to let Evans recover with some early momentum in set two, so continued bullying him from the back of the court with powerful groundstrokes and smart shots. A graphic flashed across the screen as Tsitsipas prepared to serve up 40-0 in the first game of the final set.
He had a 17-3 points won advantage over the last 20 played, which rather typified how drastically Evans was being overpowered and worn down by a better player in Monaco.
A passing backhand winner and volley at the net helped him break Evans’ serve, up 3-1, before securing the double break (5-1) despite the 30-year-old’s best efforts to keep things competitive.
He secured a flawless finish on serve with four straight points to earn his third Masters 1000 final, with either Rafael Nadal’s conqueror Rublev or Casper Ruud to play in tomorrow’s final.
looking forward, post-match comments
“I found ways to play at my best, it was very difficult despite the score, for me to maintain that consistency and level, pleased and happy I managed to deal with these difficult moments during the match.
On Evans’ playstyle and looking ahead to Sunday:
“He has a unique way of playing, slicing… I had a lot of opportunities to hit the forehand, picture the way I want to construct points and was able to step it up. I don’t know who I’m gonna get but either will definitely be a difficult test.”
Ruud, who lost to eventual champion Djokovic at last year’s Rome Masters, reached his second Masters 1000 semi after wins vs. Denis Schwartzman (#7) and Fabio Fognini (#15) among others.
Rublev did well to outlast successive Spaniards in Roberto Bautista Agut (#9) and Rafael Nadal (#3) en route to his place in the last-four, despite being taken into three sets in both.
despite defeat, timely dan evans reflection
With this result, Evans has achieved a new career-high (#26) but cannot afford to dwell too long on this result: unstuck against a better player in Tsitsipas, who improved his H2H record to 3-0 and is one of few players who can stifle his best weapons so comprehensively when on top form.
He’s playing and is seeded #16 in the Barcelona Open, which starts on Monday – with a section featuring Schwartzman, Fognini and Carreno Busta among others – all winnable matchups.
One match at a time, of course, but there’s no reason why Evans cannot continue to sustain his impressive consistency – which helped him to win one of the Australian Open warm-up tournaments, even if his overall Slam showing in Melbourne was admittedly disappointing.
Considering Roland Garros is just around the corner now, this is an encouraging sign.
Picture source: Getty Images — quotes via Prime video broadcast