Radu Albot saved three championship points to beat Dan Evans 3-6 6-3 7-6(7) in the Delray Beach Open final in Florida on Sunday and become the first player from Moldova to win an ATP title.
In a high-quality match that stretched for nearly three hours, Albot displayed nerves of steel in the dramatic final tiebreak, staving off defeat with a series of clutch shots before Briton Evans crumbled with a double-fault on Albot’s first match point.
The @DelrayBeachOpen final between Albot and Evans (both 5'9") is the first ATP Tour singles final between two players 5'9" or shorter since 2017 Moscow (Dzumhur d. Berankis, also both 5'9").
— ATP Media Info (@ATPMediaInfo) February 24, 2019
Evans – who began the week in the qualifying rounds before winning six matches to reach the final – was also seeking his first career title, 10 months after returning from a year-long cocaine suspension.
The final was delayed early in the final set due to rain, with Albot leading by a break.
He extended his lead to 4-2 before Evans broke back in the eighth game, part of a stretch that saw the world No.148 win three games in a row.
In the 10th and 12th games, Evans arrived at 30-30 as Albot was serving to stay in the match. And he went up 4-1 in the final-set tiebreak, arriving at match point three times, including once on his serve at 6-5.
Yet he was unable to convert and Albot – ranked No.82 and appearing in his first ever ATP final – went on to clinch a stunning victory.
Moldovan Magic ????????@RaduAlbot becomes the first player in history from Moldova to win an ATP-tour level title with a 3-6 6-3 7-6(7) victory over Dan Evans @DelrayBeachOpen pic.twitter.com/5zodYGSLxD
— Tennis TV (@TennisTV) February 25, 2019
Albot is projected to jump to a new career-high ranking of No.52, surpassing a previous career high of 79th, set earlier this year.
En route to the title he beat Ivo Karlovic, Nick Kyrgios and Steve Johnson – also in a third-set tiebreak – before recovering to thump Mackenzie McDonald 3-6 6-0 6-0 in the semifinals.
Evans is expected to return to the cusp of the top 100.
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