Dan Evans lost 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 to Radu Albot in the Delray Beach Open final to miss a first ATP title
Evans, playing his seventh match in eight days, had to reach deep within himself to force the tiebreak, having been a break down early in the third set when there was a lengthy rain delay, breaking back for 4-4 against a solid counter punching opponent.
Regardless of the acute disappointment in losing the chance of a first ATP main tour title it has been an strong start to the season for the GB number three, whose ranking will go up to 105 from 148:
‘Weeks like this are a reward for the consistent hard work Dan has been putting in over a sustained period and it bodes well for the future, but we both know that there is plenty more to do,’ said his coach David Felgate.
Evans went on court knowing that months of consistent hard work have already brought the reward of gaining him automatic entry into the French Open. With no points coming off until May the only way is up, ranking wise.
There will certainly be no repeat of last summer, when he became the subject of heated debates over wildcards.
Wimbledon and the LTA were anxious not to be seen being too generous to someone who had served a year’s ban after testing positive for his social use of cocaine.
He has benefitted from the disciplined partnership with British coach Felgate, who in the Nineties oversaw the rise of Tim Henman to the top of the game.
Henman spent a couple of days with Evans and Felgate prior to the start of this tournament as he was in Delray Beach to play the veterans event, and the former British number one was impressed not just by the standard of the Midlander’s play but his commitment.
Evans’s skill levels have never been in doubt, and he was in the top 50 when the suspension kicked in, returning ten months ago when he played the qualifying event of a Challenger event in Glasgow.
His progress is ahead of schedule. A mark of his talent is that before he beat Isner on Saturday night the giant American, a foot taller, had not had his serve broken for 77 games – the British player managed it three times.
After a gruelling spell in Florida Evans is due to play in different, desert conditions this week at the Indian Wells Challenger, where British No 1 Kyle Edmund is top seed, having accepted a wildcard for his first event since losing in the Australian Open first round.