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Delray Beach ATP Predictions: Evans Shocks Home Crowd Defeating Tiafo
There's nothing more satisfying than watching an underdog and fellow countryman shock a home supporting crowd by somehow defeating their reigning champion on home soil after being inches away from defeat themselves. This is of course what happened today (or yesterday depending on your timezone) when Brit Daniel Evans who is not so long back from a one year ban due to a positive drug test, managed to survive an early clobbering from the current defending champion in Florida. Evans comeback stunned Tiafoe and left the youngster furious at the end. Source - Getty Images - Daniel Evans Tiafoe who was left smashing his racket on the floor repeatedly after shaking Evan's hand, angered by the fact that he was serving for the match and was just two points away victory. He never quiet got over the finish line somehow! I last covered Daniel Evans back in the Australian Open where he put on a real show to give Federer a run for his money producing some stunning tennis considering his ranking. He is still ranked 148th in the world and still having to come through qualifiers to get involved in the main draw of these 250 ATP events. In Florida he knocked out another American - Donald Young as well as German before making the first round. The match was even more surreal due to Evans dropping the first five games of the match. Going 5-0 down in the first set, the match already looked at foregone conclusion for Tiafo. But Evans held serve, broke back and held again to make the first set more respectable and build some momentum going into the second. In the second Evans looked much more like his usual self, his calculated slice back hand was aggravating Tiafoe on numerous occasions and his serve began to fire. Both players looked solid on serve and it wasn't until the Brit's final service game where he dropped his level and Tiafoe took advantage. This lead to the young American and defending champion to serve it out and going 30 love up Tiafoe looked composed and focused, primed to move forward into the next round. But with a series of hotly contested points Evans conjured a break point back out of nowhere which he took without flinching. This lead to a tie break where having dropped his first service point Evans then went onto win the next 7 points and take the tie break 7-1. The final set produced more drama featuring 5 breaks of serve including two opportunities where Evans got to serve it out for the match. He took the chance the second time round defeating Tiafoe 7-5. The home crowd and Tiafoe who is currently ranked World Number 29 in the world were shocked. Evans and His Old School Style There's one reason Evans one to day - his ability to mix up his game and go old school. Unlike many of the young players including Tiafoe to some degree, Evans who is now 28, plays most of his backhand shots using the slice which he has fine tuned rather well. This shot wins him many cheap points because a lot of power players struggle to generate enough spin to get the ball up and down over the net from a sliced ball which typically lands lower and can be very difficult to control. The shot also allows Evans to hang in on rallies longer and reset. This shot coupled with his positive ability and willingness to approach the net and go in for the kill on the volley is what allowed him to flip the match on it's head. Of course the Brit has a decent serve, forehand and a not too shabby one handed drive backhand but the slice is his key neutralising shot, a passive aggressive play that is highly effective, especially today. It's a refreshing sight to watch compared to most other players on tour who sit back and play endless rallies from the baseline with little variation. To Tiafoes credit he too was willing to come into the net today, but many of those shots were due to the fact that Evans drew him into the net with shorter lower slices. The working class Brummie lad who is well known not to mince his words off court also has exceptional pace from the back and this pace left Tiafoe wanting at times from what seemed like definite points for the American champion. Evans moves on to face a much easier opponent in the next round. I'll be following his games closely and watching out for his odds versus trickier opponents. I had him at 2.65 to beat Tiafoe (1% stake) so this was a welcome win because a fair few of my other predictions didn't come in. I'm punting for Evans in a straight sets win against South African wild card Lloyd George Harris today at 2.50. My other predictions are as follows: Darcis vs Bachinger (Marseille) Darcis Outright 1.7 Mannarino vs Istomin (Delray Beach) Istomin Outright 2.25 Dan Evans vs Harris (Delray Beach) Evans Straight 2.5 Norrie vs Munar (Rio De Janeiro) Norrie Outright 3 Bedene vs Monteiro (Rio De Janeiro) Bedene Straight 2.6 Auger-Aliassime F vs Garin Ch. (Rio De Janeiro) Auger-Aliassime F Outright 2.25
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