Muller Defeats Evans to Win Maiden Title at Apia International Sydney

by John on January 14, 2017

The long wait is finally over. Luxembourg’s Gilles Muller defeated Brit Daniel Evans 7-6 (5), 6-2 in the final of the Apia International Sydney Saturday night, capturing his maiden ATP Tour title 13 years after reaching his first tour final. The 33-year-old Muller had been unsuccessful in five tour finals until his victory over Evans. “It means a lot. I was waiting a long time. Played my first final in 2004 (in Washington DC). We are 2017 now, and I waited 13 years to win my first title. I’m just very happy,” Muller said. “I couldn’t have imagined, when I arrived here, to be in the final. And then to win it now is just, yeah, it’s crazy.” The sixth-seeded Muller, ranked No. 34 in the world, had ended the 10-match Sydney winning streak of two-time defending champion Viktor Troicki in the semifinals on Friday in a tight 6-3, 7-6 (6) victory. In his first two matches earlier in the week Muller was stretched to three sets, including saving a match point against Alexandr Dolgopolov in the opening round. Muller had a confident start, holding at love to open the match, while Evans double-faulted twice in his first service game, but still managed to hold. Service prevailed throughout the set, although Evans needed to save break points in the 10th and 12th games to force a tiebreaker. Evans led 4-2 in the tie-break, but then fell behind 6-5 when Muller captured mini-breaks on the seventh and 11th points. Muller served it out, winning the final point on an overhead smash. The 6-foot-3 left-handed Luxembourger, with momentum and confidence in hand, broke in the third game of the second set, and then again in the seventh to lead 5-2. On the precipice of his first tour title, Muller toed the service line and jumped out to a 40-love lead. Evans erased two match points, but a swinging Muller serve sealed victory on the third. “I think the most important thing was to stay calm,” Muller said, “(and) not to let the frustration come up too much and just focus on what I had to do. I think I did pretty good.” Muller served 12 aces to seven for Evans and won 87 percent of his first service points. The Luxembourger saved his only break point, Evans erased five of seven. “I don’t think I lost it. I think he won it, to be honest,” Evans said. “He served too good. Obviously the first-set tiebreak was a big one. It would have sort of been tough for him to regain focus and go again if I’d won the first set, but I didn’t. He was good front runner.”

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