West Vancouver — When Vasek Pospisil and Daniel Evans met five years ago at the Odlum Brown VanOpen, it was in the championship final and served up a very entertaining three-set match that could have gone either way.
On semifinal Saturday at this year’s $200,000US tournament, the storyline was very similar in the fact that it involved the same two players and a hard-fought three-set victory. The difference in 2018 is that it is Evans prevailing over hometown favourite Pospisil, a former Vernon resident, 3-6, 7-5, 6-2.
“It was a great match, I think we both played really good,” said Evans, a 28-year-old from Birmingham, England on the comeback trail after wrapping up a 12-month suspension earlier this year. “The crowd was very loud, just like last time, and it makes the match way better to play in. I really enjoyed it. Win or lose, it’s fun, last time I played here I lost, I still enjoyed it. It was great fun again today.
If one were to only look at the rankings, Pospisil vs. Evans would appear to be a mismatch, but the fact is that Evans was ranked World No. 41 just a year and a half ago.
Evans, who was in the tournament as a qualifier, won Sunday’s final over Aussie Jason Kunler 4-6, 7-5, 7-6(3) in just under three hours.
“It was a tough week, but it doesn’t feel that tough when you come to this club every day,” said Evans, after the final. “It’s unique, especially on the Challenger Tour, really there are some Tour events not as good as this tournament. The crowd is incredible, they come out to the matches every single day – some of the matches aren’t that great, my own included. To win is great, and I really enjoy every time I come to Vancouver.”
Pospisil, meanwhile, was on the brink of elimination a handful of times, but Pospisil persevered and advanced to the semifinals by recording a 7-6(6), 6-7(11), 6-3 win over Lloyd Harris of South Africa Friday at the Hollyburn Country Club.
In the second set, the 28-year-old out of Vancouver, who is a former World No. 25, saved five match points during the tiebreak to set up the victory in the third set. Pospisil acknowledged that the hometown crowd made a difference in his match.
“The crowd helped me a lot today, I was going through some ups and downs mentally, I wasn’t as stable as I would have liked to be,” he said. “I just tried to stay focused and the crowd helped me so much, I’m just happy to get through.”
Despite enduring a bit of a roller coaster ride in terms of focus, Pospisil added that he felt best during the tiebreak in the second set.
“Luckily those were the points where I was really focused, I didn’t want to give him an unforced error because obviously, it’s tough to close out matches. Knowing that, I was trying to make returns and make solid balls on the court. I was just trying to think about that point, that return, that shot… and to save five match points, I’m lucky to get through.”
Pospisil will play in the U.S. Open in Flushing Meadows, N.Y. starting Monday, Aug. 27.
U.S. Open next month in Flushing Meadows, N.Y. He faces Benjamin Sigouin, 19, of Vancouver in a feature match Tuesday night.