For Gilles Muller and Daniel Evans, tomorrow's Sydney final will be one of the most important matches in a career, as they both will play for the maiden ATP title! Muller, who lost in the same round in 2015 to Viktor Troicki, avenged that defeat by beating Serb 6-3 7-6 in an hour and 30 minutes, saving all 3 break points and taking Viktor's serve once.
Muller lost all 5 ATP finals he competed in and this will be a huge chance for him to finally lift that elusive trophy, as his rival in the final will be Briton Daniel Evans. He needed 3 sets to oust Russian Andrey Kuznetsov by 6-2 3-6 6-3, advancing to his first ATP final in a career, so the match wth Muller will be very important for him as well, which guarantees a great encounter and the battle for every point.
Muller didn't have the best possible start of the season, losing in the first round of Brisbane to Jared Donaldson, but he got it right here in Sydney, advancing to his 6th ATP final with a 6-3 7-6 triumph over Viktor Troicki, who beat him here two years ago in the same round, in their only match so far. As we could expect, it was a very close match, Muller won just 3 points more than his rival and he pretty much kept himself in the lead by saving all 3 break points he faced.
Muller fired 16 aces but Troicki had better percentages behind both the first and the second serve, facing only one break point in the entire match, but he lost the crucial points, like many times in his career before. Muller couldn't wish for a better start of the match, as he broke Troicki in the second game of the match, which is often a crucial move in the battle between two good servers.
Amazing backhand volley at the net gave Muller that break of serve, and after that, both players found a nice rhythm and they reached 5-3 in no time at all. Gilles saved a break point in game 9 and he closed the set with a good attack and smash from the service line.
In set number 2 both players served well but it was Troicki who looked like a more composed player, losing only 5 points in 6 service games, and he had a nice chance to send the match into a decider. Serb had 2 break points in game 6 but Muller found the way to repel them both and make a hold with an ace, and there were no more chances for the returners until the tie break.
A player from Luxembourg opened up a 5-2 lead but Troicki climbed back to 5-5, setting an interesting closure of the set. Nevertheless, Muller had the final few points under his control and he converted the second match point with an ace on the T line to book his place in the title match.
Daniel Evans and Andrey Kuznetsov met for the first time at Wimbledon 2014, with Russian taking a win in 4 sets. Here in Sydney, it was the other way around, with Evans celebrating by 6-2 3-6 6-3 in an hour and 50 minutes, for his first ATP final! In Perth, at the Hopman Cup, we witnessed some solid tennis from Evans, and he is obviously ready for a banner season in 2017 (he defeated Dominic Thiem in the previous match). Daniel handled his game better, making a smaller number of errors and mixing his shots to keep Andrey out from his comfort zone.
Briton lost his serve 3 times, from as many chances Russian created, but that wasn't enough for Kuznetsov to gain the advantage, as he lost almost 50% of the points on his serve to get broken 5 times from Evans' 8 opportunities.
The beginning was shaky for both players, with 4 breaks of serve in the opening 5 games, and it was Evans who built a nice advantage, as he scored 3 of those breaks to be 4-1 in front after just 16 minutes. There were no more breaks until the end of the set and Daniel won it 6-2 following yet another mistake from Russian, who just couldn't find A game.
Things changed in set number 2, Andrey was now more determined player on the court and he broke in game 4 to jump into a 4-1 lead. Out of sudden, Evans broke back at love in game 7, when Andrey hit the backhand long, but that was short-lived, as Briton dropped his serve again in game 8 after a poor smash.
Kuznetsov grabbed the second set with a service winner and the match went into the deciding set. They saved the best for last, with some good tennis and 9 comfortable holds, and the crowd could only wait if some of the rivals will crumble under pressure before the tie break.
The decisive moment happened in game 4 when Evans scored a precious break to go 3-1 up, and he served well until the end of the match to keep that advantage, finishing the match in game 9 with a good forehand attack to advance to his first ATP final.
Semi-final results: Gilles Muller (LUX) vs Viktor Troicki (SRB) 6-3 7-6(6)
Daniel Evans (GBR) vs Andrey Kuznetsov (RUS) 6-2 3-6 6-3 ALSO READ: ATP AUCKLAND: Joao Sousa and Jack Sock advances to the title match