Dan Evans through to first final since cocaine ban

Dan Evans is through to his first final since a cocaine ban.   Picture Ian Rutherford
Dan Evans is through to his first final since a cocaine ban. Picture Ian Rutherford
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Dan Evans won through to his first final since returning from a 12-month cocaine ban by beating second seed John Isner in three sets in the last four of the Delray Beach Open in Florida.

It is a huge achievement for the Briton, pictured, who came through qualifying and recovered from losing the first set to prevail 3-6, 6-2, 6-3 in 92 minutes against the big-hitting American.

Evans’ career looked to be over when he tested positive for cocaine in April 2017. He was banned from professional tennis for a year but has worked hard to get back on the circuit, playing mainly in second-tier Challenger events.

He will face an unseeded player in the final, with Mackenzie McDonald or Rabu Albot due to play in the second semi. American McDonald, the world No.84, sprang a surprise in the quarter-finals by beating top seed Juan Martin Del Potro in a three-set marathon. Moldova’s Albot also caused an upset in the quarters with a come-from-behind 1-6, 6-3, 7-6 (7/5) win over American third seed Steve Johnson.

Unseeded Belinda Bencic beat Petra Kvitova to win the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships and claim her first WTA trophy since 2015. The Swiss toppled No.2 seed Kvitova 6-3, 1-6, 6-2 in one hour and 45 minutes to lift her third career title.

“It’s unbelievable. It’s incredible. I mean, I still cannot believe it,” Bencic said on www.wtatennis.com.

“So many times I was close from defeat. It’s unbelievable that I ended up winning this.”

Bencic, ranked 45 in the world, came into the final looking to win her first WTA trophy since the Rogers Cup at Toronto in 2015.

Kvitova was competing in her third final of 2019 with a victory at Sydney, but Bencic broke serve three times to win the first set.

The Czech’s powerful forehands dominated the second set, but Bencic fought back in the decider and broke to lead 2-1 and 5-2 before closing out victory.

Defending Hungarian Ladies Open champion Alison Van Uytvanck saved five match points in her thrilling 3-6, 6-4, 7-6 (7) semi-final win over Ekaterina Alexandrova.

The Belgian prevailed in a marathon contest played over two hours and 15 minutes and has now won straight matches at the Budapest event.

Van Uytvanck will play Marketa Vondrousova in Sunday’s final after the Czech teenager overpowered Russia’s Anastasia Potapova 6-0, 6-2.

Mikhail Kukushkin reached his first ATP final in more than four years after ending French wildcard Ugo Humbert’s run at the Marseille Open. The 31-year-old from Kazakhstan, ranked 50th in the world, beat Humbert 6-4, 6-4 in a semi-final showdown which lasted one hour and 33 minutes.

Kukushkin will be aiming to capture his second Tour title in today’s final, more than eight years after claiming his first at the 2010 St Petersburg Open. However, standing in his way will be top seed Stefanos Tsitsipas.

The up-and-coming Greek youngster booked his place in the final with victory over third seed David Goffin.

The 20-year-old world No.12 edged a tight first set after a tie-break and went on to beat experienced Belgian Goffin 7-6 (7/1), 6-2. Both Tsitsipas and Kukushkin reached the final without dropping a set.