By Chris Oddo | Thursday January 12, 2016
Great Britain’s Dan Evans came famously close to his first Top 10 win at the U.S. Open last summer. He had a match point to defeat eventual champion Stan Wawrinka in the fourth set but did not capitalize. It was a close call but one that has only served to spur Evans on.
More: Konta Rolls Past Bouchard to Set Sydney Final with Radwanska
Back on the horse four months later, the 26-year-old Birmingham, England native claimed his first Top 10 win and reached the semifinals of the Apia International Sydney on Thursday with an upset of World No.8 Dominic Thiem, 3-6, 6-4, 6-1.
Evans first win in five tries first Top 10 opposition earns him his first trip to the last four of an ATP event since 2014.
Thiem started strong, taking the first set without facing a break point, but Evans would break quickly in the first game of the second set and eventually force a decider when he converted his fourth set point.
Evans wasted no time taking control of a tired Thiem in the third set. He reeled off the first four games and broke a third time to clinch the match in two hours and two minutes.
"It’s probably my best win," said the World No.67. "It was a good match. I fought really hard to try and get the win and come out on top. I tried to come forward a bit more in the second set, so I played the first set sort of on his terms. I didn't have much to lose... I believed I could win going out onto the court."
Evans will move on to face Russia’s Andrey Kuznetsov in the semis. The 25-year-old snapped a 10-match losing streak in ATP quarterfinals with a three-set win over No.4-seeded Pablo Carreno Busta.
The other semifinal at Sydney will feature No.6-seeded Gilles Muller vs. No.3-seeded Viktor Troicki.
Our Take: Is Dan Evans headed higher in the rankings? It certainly looks that way based on the way he was able to take the fight to the higher-ranked Thiem on Thursday. Evans is riding a wave of confidence like so many British players right now. With Andy Murray as World No.1 and Johanna Konta making history on the women’s side, the good vibes are infectious in British tennis.
This was a disappointing loss for Thiem, on the other hand. A loss is one thing, but a horrible third set (Thiem won 9 of 23 points on serve) is entirely another. Was he fatigued? Did he want to save his energy and get out of town? We’ll likely find out next week when he appears at the Australian Open as the No.8 seed. A year removed from a breakout 58-win season, expectations will be on Thiem to take it to the next level. He’ll be expected to back up his seeding in Melbourne, but based on his performance last night, it’s not clear if he’s in good enough form to do so.