- 07 Feb 2021
In a battle between two competitors who had never previously captured an ATP title, Dan Evans easily defeated Felix Auger-Aliassime 6-2, 6-3 in the Murray River Open final on Sunday afternoon. It was the penultimate match of the Melbourne Summer Series, with the last one played between fellow Italians Jannik Sinner and Stefano Travaglia at the Great Ocean Road Open. Sinner survived two grueling sets, capping off the week and setting the stage for the Australian Open beginning on Monday.
What you need to know: First title goes to Evans, FAA still searching
Although Evans is much older than Auger-Aliassime, he had lost only two previous ATP Finals. The fact that he had never won a title probably wasn’t weighing too heavily on his mind, especially considering the fact that at 30 years old he still has plenty of time left. Although Auger-Aliassime is just 20 and will inevitably win one–and many more than one–at some point, the story is a much different one for him. Heading into Sunday, the Canadian was already 0-6 lifetime in finals and 0-12 in total sets played during those finals. That is a tough mental hurdle to overcome.
It proved to be much too tough against Evans. The world No 33 jumped on Auger-Aliassime right away, breaking serve for a 3-2 advantage in the first set. Evans ultimately won five straight games to wrap up the opening frame of play in style.
Another break for the veteran at 1-1 in the second gave him complete control of the proceedings. He had no trouble consolidating the lead to 5-2, adding another service break in the process. Only when Evans toed the line to serve for his first title did he endure his first hiccup of the match. However, it hardly mattered that he was broken in that game. Evans broke right back to get across the finish line.
Sweet victory. 😍
— Tennis Channel (@TennisChannel) February 7, 2021
Sinner vs. Travaglia was far more competitive, even though it also lasted only two sets. A wild contest in which both men struggled physically saw Sinner stumble across the finish line with a 6-4, 7-6(4), 6-4.
The 19-year-old needed more than three hours for three sets against Karen Khachanov on Saturday. Less than 24 hours later he needed more than two hours for two sets against Travaglia. Sinner was clearly less than 100 percent, but the good news for him is that neither was Travaglia.
Evans in Nadal section at Australian Open
All four finalists will turn their attention to the Australian Open, which begins on Monday. Evans has the benefit of a day off, finding himself near the bottom of the draw near Rafael Nadal (they could meet in the third round). Auger-Aliassime has to play on Monday against Cedrik-Marcel Stebe. Sinner is in an even worse situation, as he is also on Monday’s order of play and his opening opponent is world No 12 Denis Shapovalov. Travaglia will be in Day 1 action, as well, as he battles Frances Tiafoe.