Britain’s No.2 Dan Evans, the 2019 champion, reached the Rothesay Nottingham Open Challenger final with a straight-set win over Jack Sock defeating the American after nearly two hours of play, 7-5 6-4.
I knew it was going to be a tough match. He is a great competitor. It is probably my toughest match so far so I'm just happy to come through. We both played well Dan Evans
The 32-year-old Warwickshire player will face Australian Jordan Thompson in Sunday’s final, after the third seed comfortably beat compatriot Alexei Popyrin 6-4 6-2 in just 71 minutes.
Evans, who has slipped to 35 in the world rankings, is playing his first grass court tournament of the season and has yet to drop a set in Nottingham but had to save two set points on his serve in the 10th game which he promptly saved and then responded by converting his fourth break point in the following game before serving out the first set.
The Briton carried that momentum into the second set, breaking Sock’s opening service game, though he was unable to consolidate his early breakthrough.
Evans persevered to break again for a 4-3 lead and followed that up with another break clinching his allotted place in the final on his first match point.
“I was a little nervous. I knew it was going to be a tough match. He is a great competitor. It is probably my toughest match so far so I’m just happy to come through. We both played well. I nicked it really from a few points here and there and got out of trouble,” said Evans.
“It is great to be into another final. Every time I get chance to play on this court it’s a pleasure and I really appreciate it. The fans made the match even better.”
By reaching the final he has equalled Sweden’s Jonas Bjorkman’s achievement of three singles final appearances and if successful on Sunday, he will have earnt his first title since winning his maiden ATP Tour tournament at the Murray River Open in February 2021.
Evans has not played Thompson, last weeks Surbiton Trophy winner, on the main tour but has beaten him twice on grass at Futures events.
Speaking after his semi-final win, Thompson, currently on a nine-match winning streak, said: “I played a really clean match in tricky conditions. Pop has got a really big serve, but I thought I returned really well. I played good grass-court tennis. I felt like I had a lot of support out there. They had good tennis etiquette.”
His semi was scheduled first so he wasn’t aware of his final opponent so his reply when asked who he would rather face, was non-committal.
“We’ll see what happens. On any given day anyone can beat anyone. I’ll be watching on and scouting it out,” he said tactfully.
British success in the doubles with Jonny O’Mara and Ken Skupski claiming the men’s doubles crown after 76-minutes by beating fellow-British duo Julian Cash and Henry Patten 3-6 6-2 16-14.
“They’ve won 19 matches in a row, fortunately not 20 for us. They’re playing a hell of a game at the moment. Ken said to me at the start of the grass season that it could be his last run, but I said to him that if we win some matches then I’m going to drag him around the tour. It’s unreal playing with him and I want to keep it going,” O’Mara said.
“This tournament is pretty special to me,” Skupski, now the leading title-holder in Nottingham with four to his credit, added. “It’s like Rafa at Roland Garros, but I’ve got another 10 to go. Maybe I’ll come back next year. Jonny caught fire, he served well and put balls in play. In the match tiebreak I thought we’d won it, then I thought we’d lost it twice but we stuck around.”