British tennis is alive and well as Dan Evans and Jo Konta take their turns to make the headlines by reaching the latter stages of the Sydney International event, the last warm-up tournament before next weekÈs first grand slam of the year, the Australian Open, gets under way in Melbourne.
I just had to hang in there
For Dan Evans it is his first appearance in an ATP Tour semi-final since Zagreb three years ago and his 3-6 6-4 6-1 quarter-final victory over Dominic Thiem of Austria, the world number eight, is the best result of his career.
It was just reward for patience as he overcame the loss of the opening set, by deploying effective defence play to frustrate his higher ranked opponent.
Speaking after his win, the British No3 said: "The first set was pretty much what I thought was going to happen. I just had to hang in there. I knew I’d have to do a lot of running. I had to try to force my game on him, come forward and I did that in the end pretty well."
To reach his first final on the tour, Evans, ranked 67, will have to overcome RussiaÈs Andrey Kuznetsov, who in turn toppled the fourth seeded Spaniard, Pablo Carreno Busta.
In the other half of the draw defending champion Vikor Troicki takes on the sixth seeded Gilles Muller of Luxembourg, the former having received a walk-over from Philipp Kohlscreiber suffering a back injury, and the latter ousting Pablo Cuevas 7-6(5) 6-4.
In the womenÈs draw, Konta continued to produce some excellent form as she dismissed CanadaÈs Eugenie Bouchard, a former Wimbledon finalist, 6-2 6-2 to reach the final.
Konta has progressed through the field this week without dropping a set and on this occasion, strung together seven consecutive games from 2-all in the opening set, before Bouchard got another look in.
The world number 10 will face the second seeded Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland in the final, a player she has lost to in their two previous match ups.
Bidding to win her second WTA title, Konta, who reached the semis at last yearÈs Australian Open, is now definitely a player who merits a lot of respect.
Her confidence is high and despite her negative record against the Pole, she is looking forward to the final. "She’s been one of the best players for as long as I can remember, she admitted. "I played her twice before, lost twice, so hopefully I’ll do a better job tomorrow.
I’m looking forward to the challenge."