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Dan Evans turned around a difficult season in style by winning the biggest title of his career at the Citi Open in Washington.
The British number two arrived in the US capital on a seven-match losing streak at tour level dating back to April but, after dropping his opening set of the tournament to Gregoire Barrere, he won 10 in a row to lift the trophy.
Evans followed up victories over Frances Tiafoe and Grigor Dimitrov by defeating Dutchman Tallon Griekspoor 7-5 6-3, keeping his focus during a lengthy rain delay in the second set.
The 33-year-old hit 26 winners and only eight unforced errors and saved his only break points – four of them – in the final game.
The relief and delight on Evans’ face was evident at the end and, speaking on court, he said: “I wasn’t playing very well and I wasn’t happy with my game.
“To do the work I’ve done and to stick with it and come through is (amazing). The last game sort of summed up my week. I got out of trouble and it was an amazing week.”
It is a second ATP Tour title for Evans, who won his first in Australia at the start of 2021, and lifts him to a career high ranking of 21.
Evans had appeared at something of a loss during the grass-court season, branding his efforts against Sebastian Korda at Queen’s embarrassing and saying he was not looking forward to playing any match.
He parted ways with his Argentinian coach of two years, Sebastian Prieto, but looked full of confidence as he used his all-round skills to counter the power of Griekspoor.
One break in each set proved enough, with Evans piling on the pressure at the end of the first set and then, after rain and the threat of lightning sent players and fans from the court for more than 90 minutes at 2-2 in the second, winning the final three games of the contest.
Reflecting on his change in fortunes, Evans told reporters: “Last week I lost (against Dominik Koepfer in Atlanta), having three match points, served for the match.
“You try not to let emotions get in the way when you’re in the tournament. I was confident after the second round that I was playing well but I had to keep telling myself it was match by match and not so long ago I wasn’t playing great.
“It was really only the grass I didn’t play well. I played well in Barcelona on the clay and then I had some rough matches which I didn’t get the best out of. I lost in three (sets) a few times or tight matches.
“Then I was playing well and I just couldn’t get over the line. That’s where you lean on your team to keep you working hard and training and practising hard.
“It’s especially good to get the outcome I got this week. But I said to myself once I got into the semis that that was a good effort and then I sort of reset and wanted to win the tournament.”
Evans is a tantalising four points short of breaking the top 20 for the first time in his career but will need arguably an even better showing at the National Bank Open in Toronto this week to achieve that having reach the semi-finals of the Masters 1000 event 12 months ago.
Evans faces Canadian wild card Gabriel Diallo in the opening round and could meet British number one Cameron Norrie in round two.