DELRAY BEACH, Fla. (AP) English qualifier Daniel Evans upset second-seeded John Isner 3-6, 6-2, 6-3 on Saturday to reach the Delray Beach Open final.
“I just play every match as it comes,” Evans said. “I know it sounds very cliche.”
The semifinal victory marked the 40th tour-level match victory for Evans, who was suspended from the tour for a year in April 2017 after testing positive for cocaine.
“You have to stay resilient in the sport because it’s so up-and-down,” Evans said. “Obviously, my downfall was by my own wrongdoing. Let’s say mine was a mental issue.”
Evans will face Radu Albot of Moldova, a 3-6, 6-0, 6-0 winner over American Mackenzie McDonald in the night semifinal. Albot is the first Moldovan to reach an ATP Tour final.
“I think this is a great achievement,” Albot said. “This was my third semifinal and I was successful this time. I’ve been a lot of years the first player for my country to carry the flag everywhere in the world.”
The 148tyh-ranked Evans has beaten three seeded players this week, also topping third-seed defending champion Frances Tiafoe in the first round and sixth-seeded Andrea Seppi in the quarterfinals.
In Evans’ only other tour final, he lost to Gilles Muller in 2017 in Sydney.
Isner also reached the Delray Beach semifinals in 2012, ’13 and ’14, but has never advanced to the final. The 6-foot-10 American also lost in the semifinal round last week in the New York Open.
Isner held serve in all 31 service games he played this week until Evans broke him three times.
“There’s something about the semifinals here, good lord,” Isner said. “I’m good enough to get into the semis. It’s getting to me now. I just sort of did a walkabout. I think tactically I did some things poorly today and that’s what cost me. He just kept hitting a lot of balls.”
McDonald visibly faded after taking charge in the first set, losing the final 12 games with little resistance.
Albot staved off two break points on his serve in the first game of the third set, which was the last gasp McDonald had in the match. McDonald only won five points in the last five games.