Radu Albot became the first Moldovian to win an ATP title, and he did so at the expense of Dan Evans who failed to convert one of three match points he held in the third set of the Delray Beach Open final.
He played some good tennis right at the end when he needed it. Dan Evans
Albot, ranked 82nd, dispatched the 148th-ranked English qualifier 3-6 6-3 7-6(7) after two hours and 51 minutes
Both were chasing their first tour title with Albot becoming the fifth first-time winner on the ATP Tour this season after collecting in a final which had to be suspended for rain during the third set.
Albot, 29, playing his first tour-level final while Evans, 28, was appearing in only his second after reaching the Sydney final in 2017 before later that year, being suspended after testing positive for cocaine at the Barcelona Open.
He went down an early break in the third but after the brief rain delay, recovered to break back in the eighth game as Albot tightened up before converting his first match point in the deciding third set tiebreaker.
Evans, who came through qualifying, admitted that he was tired after playing six matches during the week and acknowledged: “He played some good tennis right at the end when he needed it.”
Evans though can be satisfied with his week’s work.
In the qualifying competition he come back from a set down in his first-round match against 178 ranked Dominik Koepfer of Germany. He then went on to defeat USA’s Donald Young to advance and claim his place in the main draw.
There he defeated defending champion Frances Tiafoe in the opening round coming back after the American served for the match at 6-5 in the second set and had a 30-0 lead. The Briton also defeated South Africa’s Lloyd Harris and Italy’s Andreas Seppi, both in straight sets to make the semis-finals where he clashed with John Isner, world ranked 9, over three sets to make the final.
The run should see Evans rise to around the 105 mark when the new ranking list is published this week.
Evans, who was once right outside the top 40, has risen through the rankings faster than he expected following his return from that suspension and deeply regrets that episode of his career, declaring: “I was 41 in the world and threw it away.”