United Cup: Daniel Evans leads Britain past Spain into City Final

Evans entered the match with his nation holding a 2-1 lead in the tie. With the pressure on, the 32-year-old delivered to secure Britain an unassailable 3-1 lead in the tie and top spot in Group D.
Daniel Evans
Daniel Evans

SYDNEY: Daniel Evans booked Team Britain's spot in the City Final of the ongoing United Cup when he clawed past Team Spain's Albert Ramos-Vinolas 6-3, 1-6, 6-3, here on Sunday.

Evans entered the match with his nation holding a 2-1 lead in the tie. With the pressure on, the 32-year-old delivered to secure Britain an unassailable 3-1 lead in the tie and top spot in Group D. It will play the winner of Group C in the City Final on Wednesday.

"It is great to qualify Britain for the City Final. It has been amazing to be part of the event up to this point. Watching so much great tennis. Watching the ladies compete so hard, they've done so well for our team and got us some big points. Badosa and Dart played an amazing match before me. It is one of the best matches I have watched Harriet play," Evans said.

In a physically gruelling encounter, Evans outlasted Ramos-Vinolas at the key moments, using his sliced backhand to great effect to keep the Spaniard pinned deep.

The World No. 27 looked sharp around the net and dug deep in the third set, turning to Great Britain captain Tim Henman in the Team Zone for advice and support. He recovered from squandering a break advantage in the third set, eventually putting to bed the resilient Ramos-Vinolas after two hours and 15 minutes.

Ramos-Vinolas replaced the injured Pablo Carreno Busta and, despite the defeat, demonstrated signs of his best level throughout the match.

Evans, who won his only tour-level title at an ATP 250 event in Melbourne last season, let out a roar following his win before he embraced his pumped-up teammates.

Earlier in the day, Paula Badosa engineered a remarkable comeback to defeat Harriet Dart 6-7(6), 7-6(5), 6-1 to earn Spain's first match-win at the United Cup. Playing her first match of the season, Badosa fought off leg cramps to reel in Dart and keep Spain in the tie.

"I don't know what happened in the second set, I started to cramp a little bit. It was high-intensity, the first match of the year, and I was nervous. But I could adapt myself. I started to play a little bit more aggressively. I'm very happy with the fight tonight because I played and fought until the last moment," Badosa said.

Badosa went into the match looking for her first win over Dart. The 98th-ranked Brit handed Badosa her last loss of the 2022 season at the Billie Jean King Cup, winning 6-3, 6-4 in November. As luck would have it, Badosa drew Dart again for her first match of the 2023 season.

After Great Britain made a clean sweep against Spain on Day 3 to build a 2-0 lead, Badosa was faced with the added pressure of winning a must-win match for Spain.

Dart came through a 77-minute opening set to hold off a furious comeback from the Spaniard, saving two set points along the way. With Badosa struggling with her rhythm on serve, Dart opened up a 5-2 lead before the former World No. 2 dialled in. Badosa ran off four consecutive games and earned two set points on Dart's serve at 6-5, but a brave cross-court forehand from Dart kept her in the set.

But the gruelling first set and humid conditions took their toll on Badosa in the second set. After building a 3-1 lead, she began to cramp in her legs. Dart took advantage, clawing her way back on serve before Badosa began to rebound physically.

With the help of some pickle juice provided by the trainer, Badosa began to recover and her serving woes dissipated. Badosa powered through the second-set tiebreak, building a 5-0 lead and holding off a comeback from Dart to seal the set with a roar.

With the momentum firmly on her side, Badosa dominated the final set, saving her best tennis for last. Badosa hit just three unforced errors in the final set, playing at the level that won her the Sydney title on this very court, to race away with the win after 3 hours and four minutes of play.

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