Dan Evans became the Murray River Open champion when he defeated Felix Auger-Alliasime to win his first ATP Tour title in what was his third appearance in a tour level final.
It worked out pretty good and I went about it positively. I didn’t play great in the first two rounds but I found my game in the matches Dan Evans
Seeded 8 the British No.1 who had been producing some excellent performances throughout the week to reach the final, maintained that level to dispatch the 20-year-old Canadian, the third seed, 6-2 6-3 after 78-minutes out on the Margaret Court Arena.
The Brit who so nearly secured his first title at Delray Beach in 2019 when he let slip three match points, was not going to see that scenario repeat itself.
This time he deployed subtlety to keep Auger-Alliasime off balance and with constant changes of pace using his backhand slice to great effect, he drew a number of errors from his opponent’s racket to keep the pressure on the 20-year-old.
Auger-Alliasime was also chasing his first title having appeared in six previous ones without winning a set and it would seem the pressure of competing in a title match is proving too much for the youngster.
When Evans broke at 2-2 in the first set with a perfect forehand passing shot up the line and roared “Come on!”, the shoulders of the Canadian, ranked 21, dropped, as he struggled to find his game eventually ending up with 32 unforced errors.
World ranked 33, Evans, serving for the match at 5-2 in the second set, experienced his first and only setback, double faulting to lose serve on the first break point he faced.
But he recovered his poise to break Auger-Allisaime for the fifth time to clinch victory without dropping a set all week. It was also the first title won by a Brit since Kyle Edmund at the New York Open in February last year.
The win will provide Evans with additional confidence when he gets his Australian Open challenge under way next week.
Unfortunately the draw has been unkind as he has to face the only other Brit in the men’s field, Cameron Norrie, in the first round.
He will also be playing without the services of a coach having terminated a trial period with Australian Craig Johnstone last week declaring that they weren’t suited.
“I’ll try to find a coach that suits me and my game,” he said after collecting his first title.
“I didn’t have a great two week’s practice.
“Since the start of this week I set in stone that I would get back to what I was good at. It reinforced my game style and my game plan, and I never really wavered from that.
“The last three matches I really put my game on the court and was decisive in how I was going to make clear decisions.”
He added: “Ideally I would have liked to play the first week and then rest but I made a decision at the start of the week, especially with the situation I find myself in with no coach, matches would be the best practice – and there are way less things to organise as well.
“It worked out pretty good and I went about it positively. I didn’t play great in the first two rounds but I found my game in the matches.
“The way I played this week was way less physical. I really played my game with way more shorter points.”