Nottingham | Evans looking for back-to-back titles
British No. 3 Dan Evans is through to the ATP Challenger semi-finals of Nottingham’s Nature Valley Open – an LTA summer grass court event – after beating unseeded German Dominik Koepfer 7-6(6) 6-7(8) 6-4.
There was a big crowd out there cheering me on, so I enjoyed it out there. I fought hard, so it was good to get the win and focus on my next match today. Dan Evans
Playing for the first time this year at the Nottingham Tennis Centre in front of a packed Court 1 crowd, Birmingham-born Evans was broken in his first service game in a tense opening set that he also failed to serve out at 6-5.
But a volleyed winner on the stretch meant that the top seed edged the first tie-break 8-6 – the same scoreline by which Koepfer clinched the second-set breaker to level the match, having saved two match points along the way.
World No. 70 Evans battled back in the deciding set, however, firing in his final serve after two hours and 41 minutes to close out the match – his eight consecutive victory following on from his title-winning grass court run at the Surbiton Trophy last week.
He said: “It was difficult, but I thought I played pretty good. It’s great that we got some nice weather so we could get on the grass – hopefully we get some more today and tomorrow.
“There was a big crowd out there cheering me on, so I enjoyed it out there. I fought hard, so it was good to get the win and focus on my next match today.”
After suitable rest, the 2018 Nottingham finalist will go on to face the 2010 Aegon Trophy Nottingham runner-up Go Soeda from Japan in the last four later on Saturday, since weather disruption earlier in the week has pushed both the ATP Challenger quarter-final and semi-final singles matches into one day.
Speaking ahead of his match against World No. 191 Soeda, Evans added: “I just wanted to get the match done, get off the court, and get on the grass again. I don’t know him that well, but it will be a tough match, for sure. He’s playing very well, but I feel as good as I can after a packed-out few days, so we’ll see what happens.”
Elsewhere, in the concurrent WTA International event, Croatian second seed and 2017 Nottingham champion Donna Vekic won 12 games in a row after dropping the first set on Centre Court to beat ninth seed Tatjana Maria of Germany 5-7 6-0 6-0 and book her place in Sunday’s WTA International final.
The 22-year-old World No. 22 will face either No. 1 seed Caroline Garcia or the USA’s Jennifer Brady, who are under way on the main show court.