World number sixty-seven Dan Evans defeated top seed Dominic Thiem 3-6, 6-4, 6-1, to advance to the semifinals of the Apia International Sydney. This is only the second ATP World Tour semifinal that Evans has reached in his career, and he will face off against Andrey Kuznetsov for a place in his first final.
Thiem was close to his top level in the first set with some flashes of brilliance giving him a one-set lead. His level quickly dropped in the second and after shared breaks, Evans regained his lead late in the set to level the match and force a decider. The Brit completely dominated the decider, a crucial hold for 2-0 making the difference as he raced through a 6-1 set to secure his place in the semifinals.
Evans opened the match with a quick hold to love, using the body serve well to trouble Thiem. The Austrian came through a simple hold of his own to level the pair up early. A twenty-seven stroke rally got Evans off to a lead in his next service game, impressive defending taking him through a mini-battle of the one-handed backhands on his way to another solid hold to lead 2-1.
The Brit then took a lead on the return with an error from Thiem, but a stunning backhand winner right in the corner from the Austrian brought them level and eventually out with the hold. Bullying groundstrokes from Thiem and a couple of errors from Evans gave the Austrian the first break point of the match. Evans attempted to close down the net and erase the break point quickly but Thiem fired a backhand into the body that the Brit was unable to control to take a 3-2 lead. The Austrian raced through a love hold with some excellent play at the net to consolidate his lead.
Thiem pushed Evans hard on serve again, but the Brit came through the tight deuce game with some more amazing backhand to backhand exchanges to stay in touch with the world number eight. There was no luck on the return for the Brit though as Thiem flew through a second hold to love to force the Brit to serve to stay in the set. Evans had a game point for the hold but Thiem again battled his way to deuce with some outstanding play. The Austrian earned a set point and was handed the second break with a backhand wide from Evans securing the first set 6-3.
Break filled set
Evans bounced back immediately in the second set, fighting from 15-40 down to break and take an early lead with some more outstanding net play. Thiem earned himself a couple of break-back points straight away but some gutsy play from the Brit saved both, a beautifully sliced backhand down the line taking him through the hold. Evans then managed to keep his momentum rolling, taking a second straight break with some inconsistent play from Thiem allowing the Brit to fight his way through for a 3-0 lead.
A disastrous service game from Evans handed Thiem one of the breaks straight back. The Austrian was still having trouble controlling his backhand, with another unforced error giving Evans a lead on return again. A stunning forehand from Thiem was quickly followed by a shank, but he managed to hang on for his first hold of the set at 3-2.
The Brit looked to be cruising through a love hold but Thiem pushed him to deuce. An outrageous passing shot on the run from the Austrian brought up another break back point, with an error giving Thiem the break. Great defending finished off with a backhand down the line gave Evans another two break points for the fifth break of the set. Another error from Thiem handing Evans back his lead.
Evans ended the run of breaks with a well-fought hold, the body serve still working well for the Brit as he forced Thiem to serve to stay in the set. A set point for Evans was quickly erased with a serve-volley from Thiem, and a scorching forehand down the line brought up game point. The Austrian held on to ask the serve it out question of Evans.
Another two set points came and went for Evans as Thiem earned another break back point. Brave play at the net saved it, with the Brit finally securing the second set 6-4 to level the match.
First top-ten victory for Evans
Evans again pounced in the first game of the set. Errors were still plaguing the Austrian's game and Evans took advantage, breaking in the opening game to go ahead in the match for the first time. A crucial hold from 0-30 and break point down gave the Brit a 2-0 lead. A second consecutive break gave Evans another 3-0 lead, and this time he managed to hold on to it, coming through an easy hold to race away with a 4-0 lead as Thiem's form dropped.
The Austrian managed to hold on, with an easy service game giving him his first hold of the set. It came too late as Evans flew through another service game to go 5-1 ahead and there was no way back as another nightmare service game gave Evans three match points on the return, taking the first to secure the set 6-1 and his first top ten victory.