Dan Evans wins first ATP Tour title defeating Felix Auger-Aliassime in final ahead of Australian Open
Murray River Open victory will give British No 1 Dan Evans a confidence boost heading into the first Grand Slam of the year, where he has not advanced beyond the second round since 2017; he faces compatriot Cameron Norrie in the first round on Tuesday
Last Updated: 07/02/21 1:10pm
British No 1 Dan Evans claimed his first ATP Tour title after defeating Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime at the Murray River Open in Melbourne on Sunday.
Evens continued his impressive form into the lead-up to the Australian Open, which begins on Monday, by beating the Canadian with a commanding 6-2 6-3 victory in just 77 minutes.
Evans, ranked 33 in the world, had made two previous ATP finals - in Sydney in 2017 and Delray Beach in 2019 - but lost both.
"It was good to be out there and win, but like I said last year, this year I wanted to do well in the bigger events. I didn't have great Grand Slams last year, albeit a strange year, but my focus is on this week now. I've got a tough match against Cam (Norrie) and hopefully get through that one," said Evans.
"I want to do well next week, but delighted with how today went and this week, but it's over now, and look forward to Tuesday."
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The 30-year-old made it third time lucky, however, upsetting the 21st-ranked Auger-Aliassime
The victory was not without its anxious moments, with Evans serving for the match at 5-2 in the second set only to be broken.
But he immediately hit back to break the third seed in the subsequent game and secure the win having not dropped a set (10-0) in five matches.
The Briton played a consummate match overall, dropping just the one service game to Auger-Aliassime's five, refusing to allow his opponent to get into any rhythm, and with his backhand slice, in particular, exerting pressure on the Canadian, who committed 32 unforced errors.
The long-awaited win for Evans came despite the fact he is playing without a coach while in Australia.
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Evans split from mentor Mark Hilton last year after the coach decided to take up a full-time role with the Lawn Tennis Association.
Evans had a trial with Australian Chris Johnstone ahead of this week but it did not work out, leaving the 30-year-old with only his girlfriend and an Australian-based friend in his team.
Auger-Aliassime was bidding for his first title in his seventh final.
Britain's Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares of Brazil defeated Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah 6-3 7-6 (9-7) to win the doubles title of the Great Ocean Road Open.
Perfect preparation for Barty and Mertens
World No 1 Ashleigh Barty outfought Garbine Muguruza 7-6 (7-3) 6-4 to win the Yarra Valley Classic warm-up tournament.
The 24-year-old Australian, playing her first tournament for almost a year, was made to work hard for her second WTA title on home soil but had enough weapons in her armoury to see off the former French Open and Wimbledon champion in a gripping contest.
"It was some of the better tennis I played throughout the whole week," Barty said. "Garbine forced me to play at that level. It was a great final and I'm happy with the progression of the level of tennis through the week."
Barty habitually dismisses talk about pressure at the Australian Open and said only that she was excited and ready to go.
"I'm just trying to come out here and do the best that I can," she added.
"I've done the preparation, I've eaten my Brussels sprouts, done everything to put myself in a position that I can go out there and perform at the best level I can."
The 2019 French Open champion, a semi-finalist here last year, will have a day off to recuperate before opening her campaign against Danka Kovinic on Rod Laver Arena on Tuesday.
Elise Mertens secured her sixth career WTA title when she made light work of experienced Estonian Kaia Kanepi 6-4 6-1 to win the Gippsland Trophy.
Anett Kontaveit and Ann Li shared the Grampians Trophy after time ran out to complete the warm-up tournament arranged to give match practice to the players who endured 14 days of hard quarantine in Melbourne.
Both of Sunday's semi-finals were decided by a super tie-breaker with Estonian Kontaveit saving two match points to beat Greek Maria Sakkari 2-6 6-3 (11-9) and Li prevailing 7-6 (7-5) 6-7 (5-7) (10-6) over fellow American Jennifer Brady.
Russia win ATP Cup; Sinner on fire
Daniil Medvedev enjoyed the perfect Australian Open preparation as he fired Russia to victory in the ATP Cup with a dominant 6-4 6-2 win over Italy's Matteo Berrettini.
With Andrey Rublev having thrashed Fabio Fognini 6-1 6-2 in the opening singles, world No 4 Medvedev sealed the tie 2-0 at Rod Laver Arena as the rampaging Russians stormed to the title undefeated.
Italy could have done with teenager Jannik Sinner in their ranks after he sealed back to back ATP titles with victory at the Great Ocean Road Open. The 19-year-old beat compatriot Stefano Travaglia 7-6 (7-4) 6-4 for a 10th consecutive win.
So happy to have won this week and to start my season this way. Thank you to my team, couldn’t have done this without you. Also, Congrats to my fellow compatriot @stetone91 for a great tournament 🇮🇹. And thank you to everyone and @tennisaustralia who made this event possible 🙏🏼 pic.twitter.com/KvZzL1q9vQ— Jannik Sinner (@janniksin) February 7, 2021
Sinner will face Denis Shapovalov in the first round and it could be a cracker between two of the most exciting young players in the men's game. Shapovalov is no longer a new face but is still only 21 and much bigger things are expected. Sinner, meanwhile, is heading for the top at breakneck speed.