Evans Turns Disappointing Season Into A Winning One By Capturing D.C. Title

Daniel Evans (photo: Mike Lawrence/Mubadala Citi DC Open)

WASHINGTON, August 7, 2023 (by Michael Dickens)

Daniel Evans wasn’t going to let a little rain dampen his run to a second career ATP Tour, at the Mubadala Citi DC Open in Washington, D.C., even if it did cut short his victory celebration.

On Sunday evening in the nation’s capital city of Washington, D.C., the 33-year-old from Great Britain celebrated a rain-interrupted 7-5, 6-3 victory over Tallon Griekspoor of the Netherlands. It was his third consecutive win over the Dutchman in three career meetings.

The Birmingham, England native hit 26 winners to just eight unforced errors and also won 16 of 17 net exchanges during the one-hour, 41-minute match, which was halted by thunderstorms for more than two hours after Evans won the first set 7-5 and left the court even at 2-all in the second set. It turned out to be a good thing that Evans wrapped up the title in straight sets as a light drizzle began to fall as he was giving his victory speech.

“Yeah, very strange week,” Evans said in his post-match news conference. “You know, we missed a day of tennis [on Thursday] and played two matches on one day [on Friday]. So, the weather now sort of sums up the week for me.”

For the British 12th seed, winning the ATP 500 crown is the biggest prize catch of his career – not to mention the first-prize money of $353,445 plus 500 rankings points that he will take with him to Toronto for this week’s Masters 1000 National Bank Open event. Evans became the first British man to play in a D.C. final since Andy Murray in 2006, and his triumph made him the first Briton since Tim Henman won in 2003 to capture the D.C. title. He is also the oldest D.C. champion since Jimmy Connors won in 1988 at age 35.

After arriving at the tournament on a six-match losing streak, Evans turned his game around and his attitude, too. He displayed a superb balance of attack and defense throughout and played inspired tennis. Evans strung together 10 straight winning sets after losing the first set of his opening match against Gregoire Barrere and also beat Alexander Shevchenko, No. 2 seed Frances Tiafoe, No. 5 seed Grigor Dimitrov and No. 12 seed Griekspoor.

“I wasn’t playing very well and I wasn’t happy with my game,” Evans said in an on-court interview before the trophy ceremony. “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. I really appreciate all the support.”

Afterwards, texts from well wishers back home started pouring in despite it being well after midnight across the Atlantic.

“I’m hearing from friends that haven’t had a lot to celebrate lately,” Evans said. “They have gone out the last three nights. One of our friends has a bar, so they kept that open. I’m sure they’ll have a few drinks still now.”

With his second title in four tour-level finals – and first in more than two years – Evans will move up to a new career-high 21st in the rankings, an improvement of nine places. In defeat, the talented 27-year-old Griekspoor from Haarlem, whose wins this week included an upset of World No. 9 and top seed Taylor Fritz in the semifinals, will achieve a new high of World No. 26.

“It’s nice to win any tournament, but especially here,” Evans said. “I have come here a lot of times, and it’s an amazing week. I’m delighted.”

Looking back, what a week it’s been for Evans, turning a disappointing season around and winning the biggest – and heaviest – trophy of his career, too.

Gonzalez and Molteni win fourth doubles title of 2023

Unseeded Maximo Gonzalez and Andres Molteni of Argentina won their fourth doubles title of the season and first on a hard court after rallying to beat American wild cards Mackenzie McDonald and Ben Shelton, 6-7 (4), 6-2, 10-6, to become the first all-Argentine champions of the Washington, D.C. event.

The Argentines combined to hit four aces and won 80 percent of their first-serve points. They saved both break points they faced while breaking McDonald and Shelton twice in 10 opportunities. The match ended on a double fault by Shelton, the sixth by his team. It was the third match tie-break won by Gonzalez and Molteni this week. Their four tour-level titles levels them with French Open champions Ivan Dodig and Austin Kracijek for most doubles crowns this season and their title win in D.C. moved them into eighth place in the Pepperstone ATP Live Doubles Team Rankings.

“We are working hard here. We know each other. I think this is important when you play doubles,” Gonzalez said in a post-match interview. “We have confidence, we trust in us. I hope to keep it the same way.”

Earlier this season, Gonzalez, 40, from Tandil, and Molteni, 35, of Buenos Aires, won three ATP events on clay at Cordoba, Rio de Janeiro and Barcelona before prevailing in Washington in an hour and 43 minutes. Gonzalez is now 16-6 in tour-level doubles finals, while Molteni improved to 15-7. Together, the Argentines are 37-18 lifetime (27-13 in 2023) and the D.C. title is their fifth career as a team.

By comparison, McDonald, 28, of Piedmont, Calif., and Shelton, 20, from Atlanta, Ga., were appearing in only their first ATP Tour doubles final together. The loss dropped their record to 4-4.

The last South American duo to win the D.C. title was Hans Gildemeister of Chile and Andres Gomez of Ecuador in 1986.

By the numbers

Both Tallon Griekspoor and Daniel Evans appeared in their first ATP Tour 500-series final at the Mubadala Citi DC Open.

“Quotable …”

“I like the hard courts, making the final here is something special. I just kept working day in and day out, trying to do the right things.”

– Tallon Griekspoor of the Netherlands, after his upset of World No. 9 and top seed Taylor Fritz.