Any Title Is Special, Just Ask Daniel Evans

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

WASHINGTON, August 9, 2023 (by Michael Dickens)

When Daniel Evans, the British men’s No. 2, arrived in the nation’s capital city of Washington, D.C. last week to play in the Mubadala Citi DC Open, an ATP 500-series event, he was a little bit down on his luck. An 8-18 win-loss record will do that to you.

Evans had lost seven straight matches dating back to April over all three surfaces – on clay, on grass and on hard courts. It didn’t make a difference. How bad had things gone for Evans? So bad that he squandered three match points, ahead 6-2, 5-3, 40-0 against Dominik Koepfer, in what became a three-set first-round loss in Atlanta.

Then, after losing the first set of his first-round match against Gregoire Barrere in Washington, things began to improve for the ninth-seeded Evans. He won 10 straight sets across five matches, defeating Barrere, Alexander Shevchenko, No. 2 seed Frances Tiafoe, No. 5 seed Grigor Dimitrov and Griekspoor, by playing flawless tennis. It culminated in the 33-year-old journeyman from Birmingham, England winning his first title of the season. It was the second career ATP Tour singles title for Evans in his fourth final, and first at 500 level after capturing the DC Open crown Sunday night.

“I had to keep telling myself it was match-by-match and not so long ago I wasn’t playing great,” Evans said during his victory news conference. It was a good effort mentally to just stay in the present and keep fighting for each point. And I did a great job of that this week.”

Evans’s victory didn’t come simple or easy – there was a two-hour delay thanks to a pesky thunderstorm that halted play at 2-all in the second set – but it was definitely worth the wait. The 30th-ranked Briton defeated No. 37 Tallon Griekspoor of the Netherlands, 7-5, 6-3, by saving four break points in the last game of the one hour, 41-minute final. Evans punctuated the ending with a service winner to become the oldest Washington champion since Jimmy Connors was 35 when he won the event in 1988.

The new Washington champion credited his team for helping him stay calm and focused during the lengthy rain delay. He also provided a glimpse into his friendship with Griekspoor. “Tallon was in the changing room as well, so it was light hearted. It was nice,” he said.

Evans, the first British finalist in Washington since Andy Murray in 2006 and first Briton to win the title at Rock Creek Park since Tim Henman in 2003, was all smiles as he raised his arms and pumped his fists in celebration on court following his triumph in front of just a smattering of fans, who stuck around to the finish. It was a stark contrast to the scene a few hours earlier when Coco Gauff won the DC Open women’s title before a capacity crowd of 7,500 on Stadium Court.

Later, Evans had a chance to reflect on his accomplishment. “Any title is special,” he said. “It’s obviously the biggest one of my career. I played some very good tennis this week and super happy to come out on top.”

On Monday, Evans moved up nine spots to a career-best No. 21 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings. On Tuesday evening, the newly-crowned Washington champion was back on court at the National Bank Open, a Masters 1000 event in Toronto, where he faced 141st-ranked Canadian wild card Gabriel Diallo – and was promptly upset by the 21-year-old Montreal native, 7-6 (4), 7-5.  It was Diablo’s first tour-level win of his nascent career after starting 0-4, but the second time he’s beaten Evans this season following a Challenger Tour win on grass at Surbiton in June. Although the in-form Evans didn’t play badly in Toronto, he was ripe for an upset and was outpointed 78-69.

“I hope that everyone in this planet can feel what I’m feeling right now, this level of happiness,” Diallo said in his on-court interview. It’s a level of happiness Evans felt just 48 hours earlier in winning the Washington title.

“But obviously it doesn’t come without hard work behind the scenes,” Diallo added. “People don’t know us as tennis players, we travel, we lose first round, we go to crazy places losing first round, it’s so tough.

“But it shows that hard work eventually pays off and hopefully this can be the start of something.”

Caroline Wozniacki’s dream comeback: Bon retour, Caro

When Denmark’s Caroline Wozniacki walked onto the court at IGA Stadium in Montreal Tuesday, it’s almost like she had never left.  Although it had been 1,293 days since her last match – since retiring after the 2020 Australian Open to start a family with her husband, former NBA star David Lee – Wozniacki, 33, a former No. 1 who received a main-draw wild card to the Masters 1000 Omnium Banque Nationale, looked match fit and mentally focused as she defeated 115th-ranked Australian qualifier Kimberly Birrell, 6-2, 6-2.

It was Wozniacki’s 177th match win in a WTA 1000 event, third most behind Victoria Azarenka (187) and Simona Halep (186).

Wozniacki, who won the 2010 Omnium Banque Nationale title in 2010, needed just an hour and 37 minutes to move into the second round. She hit 13 winners to 15 unforced errors, converted six of 12 break points and outpointed Birrell 69-50. Her next opponent will be Wimbledon champion Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic.

“It feels great, it’s my first match back in over three years,” Wozniacki said in her on-court interview. “I’m definitely a little bit rusty, but what an amazing place to come back and play my first match. I love playing here in Montreal. I have amazing memories here. The fans are always the best. Thank you coming out and supporting me. Merci beaucoups.”

Billie Jean King Cup: Commitment to be bigger, better and bolder

The International Tennis Federation (ITF) and TWG Global, a new holding company that is headed by Los Angeles Dodgers principal owner Mark Walter, have partnered to market and promote the Billie Jean King Cup.

The new entity, Billie Jean King Cup Limited, with the ITF holding a 51 percent stake and TWG Global 49 percent, will seek new sponsorships and broadcast and commercial partnerships. It makes King a part-owner.

“We don’t think enough people know what the Billie Jean King Cup is,” said Ilana Kloss, former professional player and King’s wife, who will be board chairman of the new venture, as quoted by “It is still the largest women’s global team competition.

“We think it’s very important to have a team focused daily on building the Billie Jean King, and investing in the brand.”

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Caroline Wozniacki is competing in her 92nd WTA 1000-level event this week in Montreal, third most amongst active players.

“Quotable …”

“I’m just excited to be back and competing, and I think for me it’s so special having my family. As a 33-year-old that has played on tour for many years, and doing it with my kids that now, especially the older one is starting to really understand and gets to really experience the world and different countries, I think it’s so cool.”

Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark, from her post-match press conference as quoted by the WTA website, after winning her first match in more than three years following her retirement in early 2020.