Evans & Carreno Busta Finish Strong, Set Montreal SF
Daniel Evans was being played off the court by a red-hot Tommy Paul in the pair's Montreal quarter-final on Friday evening. But the workmanlike Briton kept the faith in his steady game to advance to his second career ATP Masters 1000 semi-final with a hard-fought 1-6, 6-3, 6-4 victory.
"The crowd, that's what they buy their tickets for. That's live sport," Evans said in his post-match press conference. "You never know what's going to happen. It was an amazing match, amazing atmosphere. I played on the court before. In the day it was amazing, but at night, there's something about playing sport at night, it's extra special."
After Paul filled up the highlight reel with his pace and powerful ground game early on, Evans capitalised on the slightest of openings in sets two and three to win both by a single break. The 32-year-old secured an early lead in the deciding set, then crucially escaped 15/40 to move within one game of victory at 5-3.
Evans saw a match point go begging in spectacular fashion on return and absorbed one last Paul backhand pass on serve before completing the turnaround by expertly backing up strong serving in the clutch.
"I just didn't think he could carry that on," Evans said of his opponent's blistering start. "If he did, I had to walk off and shake his hand."
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In his 4-3 service game in the final set, Evans rode his luck as Paul clipped the tape on a mid-court forehand — the sort of ball he feasted on for much of the two-hour, 17-minute contest. The World No. 39 took matters into his own hands the rest of the way as he powered to the key hold.
Evans saved six of eight break points in the match as he withstood 41 winners from Paul, who stunned second seed Carlos Alcaraz on Wednesday. The American moved up three places to No. 31 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings by reaching the quarter-finals, setting himself up to reach a new career-high.
With wins against fifth seed Andrey Rublev and 10th seed Taylor Fritz in the previous two rounds, Evans is through to his second Masters 1000 semi-final in as many years. He upset then-World No. 1 Novak Djokovic to reach that stage at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters in 2021 and also reached back-to-back Masters 1000s doubles finals with countryman Neal Skupski last season (Miami, Monte Carlo).
With victory in his first ATP Head2Head meeting with Paul, Evans improved his 2022 record to 19-17 and sealed progress to a second tour-level semi-final of the year (Sydney). He has moved up 16 places to No. 23 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings this week and also occupies 23rd place in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Turin.
As he turned the tide in the second set against the American, Evans excelled at winning points from attacking positions, as illustrated by INSIGHTS: Conversion statistics from TennisViz. His 70 per cent conversion rate on such points exceeded the ATP Tour average of 66 per cent.
Figure 1: Daniel Evans won 70 per cent of points played in attack in the second set, surpassing the ATP Tour average.
Evans will meet Pablo Carreno Busta in the semi-finals. The Spaniard prevented an all-British semi-final by closing out the Friday evening session with a 7-6(4), 6-1 win against qualifier and #NextGenATP star Jack Draper.
Draper was hanging on early as he showed tremendous shotmaking under pressure to save three break points in each of his first two service games. Carreno Busta eventually edged ahead, only to drop serve for the first time on the week as he attempted to serve out the set at 5-4, falling victim to a barrage of powerful lefty forehands from his opponent.
The Spaniard regrouped to steal the set from 1/3 down in the tie-break, then drove home his advantage with a break to love early in the second, dialling in with an array of winners and lasered passing shots.
The World No. 23 had no problem closing out the second set as he secured another break before sealing victory on his third match point — though a final Draper push saw the Briton create his second break point of the match in its final game.
Carreno Busta's dominance in the second set can be seen in his 94 per cent conversion rate; he dropped just one point from attack in the set as he raced through the finish line after one hour, 53 minutes.
Figure 2: Pablo Carreno Busta lost just one point from attack in the second set.
Five years after he broke into the Top 10 in 2017, Carreno Busta has moved up six places to No. 17 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings and could rise as high as No. 14 by winning his first title of the season in Montreal. A Barcelona finalist in April, he is through to his third ATP Masters 1000 semi-final.
"Carreno [Busta] is a great player, experienced pro," Evans said prior to the Spaniard's victory. "[He is] underestimated a lot. He's a very tough opponent."