British No 1 Dan Evans is playing himself into form nicely ahead of the Australian Open; he faces Canada’s Felix Auger-Aliassime in Sunday’s final; Evans is looking for his first title after losing finals in Sydney in 2017 and Delray Beach in 2019
Last Updated: 06/02/21 1:22pm
Dan Evans dominated Jeremy Chardy to reach the third ATP Tour final of his career at the Murray River Open in Melbourne where he will play Felix Auger-Aliassime.
The British No 1 played himself into excellent form during two matches on Friday, the second of which brought him victory over fourth seed Borna Coric at the Australian Open warm-up event.
Evans raced to a 4-0 lead against Frenchman Chardy – who had won all three of their previous meetings – and did not let up, easing to a 6-2 6-2 victory after exactly an hour.
“I served pretty well,” Evans said in his on-court interview. “I was pretty clinical after my serve. I was a little tired after yesterday so I was pretty happy with my concentration to come out and back it up after a good day yesterday.”
Evans is looking for his first title after losing finals in Sydney in 2017 and Delray Beach in 2019, where he held three match points against Radu Albot before falling to defeat.
The 30-year-old briefly received treatment after the third game of the match, but played down any concerns, saying: “My calf was a little sore. I just had a little painkiller but it’s all good.”
Third seed Auger-Aliassime was even more convincing winner over Corentin Moutet 6-1 6-2 and hopes this will be the moment where he finally wins a first title.
Auger-Aliassime, who has lost each of his six finals on the men’s ATP Tour, said: “I’m well aware of my record in finals, but I think tomorrow is another match. I had very difficult matchups in my last finals in terms of rankings. This time it’s different, but it doesn’t mean that it gets any easier.”
After being knocked out of the Australian Open in the first round last year, Auger-Aliassime faces German Cedrik-Marcel Stebe in the opening round of the year’s first Grand Slam and he is confident his game is in good shape.
“I’m being more and more mature with how I play. My feeling is that I’m able to bring more consistency through the matches,” he said. “I do feel like I’m a better player than I was 12 months ago, so we’ll see.”
Former world No 1 Garbine Muguruza sounded out a warning to her Australian Open rivals with a 6-1 6-0 thrashing of Marketa Vondrousova to set up a Yarra Valley Open final against Ashleigh Barty.
Australian Barty, who currently tops the world rankings, got her place in Sunday’s final of the warm-up tournament when Serena Williams pulled out of their semi-final on Friday.
Daniil Medvedev fired Russia into the final of the ATP Cup on Saturday with a tense 3-6 6-3 7-5 win over an injury-hampered Alexander Zverev after the German destroyed a racket in frustration over a lost service break.
Russia will meet surprise package Italy in Sunday’s final after Matteo Berrettini sealed a 2-0 win against Spain by beating Roberto Bautista Agut 6-3 7-5.
Evans will meet compatriot Cameron Norrie in a Battle of the Brits at the Australian Open following the draw on Friday, while Yorkshire’s Fran Jones, who was born with a rare genetic condition, will make her Grand Slam debut against Shelby Rogers.
Evans will take on British No 3 Norrie for the first time since their meeting at a Challenger event in California five years ago – a match which Evans won in straight sets.
There is the carrot for the winner of a possible third-round clash with second seed Rafael Nadal, while the pairing at least means there will not be a repeat of the French Open in October, where no British singles players reached the second round.
Evans is the 30th seed and Britain’s main hope for a good run along with women’s 13th seed Johanna Konta, who will play Slovenian world No 104 Kaja Juvan in the opening round.
Qualifier Jones, 20, who was born with a rare genetic condition called Ectrodactyly Ectodermal Dysplasia Syndrome – she has three fingers and a thumb on each hand, three toes on her right foot and four toes on her left – will make her Grand Slam main draw debut against big-hitting American Rogers.
Heather Watson faces a rematch with Czech Kristyna Pliskova, who she beat at the same stage last year, while Katie Boulter will take on former top-10 player Daria Kasatkina.