Dan Evans beats John Isner to reach Delray Beach final

Britain's Dan Evans

British number three Dan Evans reached the Delray Beach Open final in Florida with 3-6 6-2 6-3 win over world number nine John Isner of the USA.

The 28-year-old world number 148, who returned in April 2018 from a one-year drugs ban, is a qualifier in the event.

He fought back to beat last year’s Wimbledon semi-finalist Isner, 33, in an hour and 32 minutes.

In only his second ATP final he will face an unseeded player, either Mackenzie McDonald or Radu Albot.

American McDonald, 23, is the world number 84 who beat top seed Juan Martin del Potro in the quarter-finals.

Albot of Moldova beat Nick Kyrgios in the round of 16 and is ranked 82.

In his only previous ATP final two years ago, Evans lost at the Sydney International to Gilles Muller.

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Dubai Tennis Championships: Belinda Bencic beats Petra Kvitova in final

Belinda Bencic

Belinda Bencic upset world number four Petra Kvitova to win the Dubai Championships, her third WTA title.

Switzerland’s Bencic, ranked 45th, beat the Czech 6-3 1-6 6-2 to claim her first WTA title since 2015.

Saturday’s victory was also the 21-year-old’s fourth in a row against a player ranked in the world’s top 10 at the tournament.

“This is amazing. I just tried to put as many balls back as possible to create pressure,” said Bencic.

“I feel great. We worked a lot on my fitness, so maybe that was the secret.”

Bencic, who lost to 28-year-old Kvitova at the Australian Open in January, started quickly and broke her rival to love in the match’s opening game before taking the first set in commanding fashion.

She faded in the second but raised herself for the decider and made the most of a number of Kvitova errors.

In an impressive run, Bencic beat Romanian world number two Simona Halep, sixth-ranked Elina Svitolina of Ukraine and Belarus’ Aryna Sabalenka, who is ranked ninth, on her way to the final.

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Juan Martin del Potro: Argentine top seed loses to Mackenzie McDonald in Delray Beach Open quarter-final

Juan Martin del Potro and Mackenzie McDonald

Juan Martin del Potro’s injury comeback ended with a three-set quarter-final defeat by American Mackenzie McDonald at the Delray Beach Open.

The Argentine top seed, was beaten 6-4 3-6 7-6 (7-5) by the world number 84.

Del Potro was playing his first tournament since breaking a kneecap at the Shanghai Masters in October.

He defended two match points to win the second set, but McDonald converted his third match point in the third-set tie-break to seal victory.

McDonald, 23, next faces Moldova’s Radu Albot, who came from a set and a break down to beat fourth-seeded American Steve Johnson 1-6 6-3 7-6 (7-5).

In the other last-four tie in Florida, Britain’s Dan Evans will play his first ATP Tour semi-final for over two years against American John Isner.

Del Potro moves on to next week’s tournament in Acapulco, Mexico, where he accepted a wild card to defend his title before he plays at March’s Indian Wells Masters, which he also won last year.

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Briton Evans reaches first semi-final since drugs ban

Dan Evans reaches Delray Beach Open semi-finals

Britain’s Dan Evans reached his first ATP Tour semi-final for over two years by beating Italian Andreas Seppi in their Delray Beach Open quarter-final.

Evans, 28, won 6-4 6-4 as he continues to rebuild his career following a drugs ban last year.

Ranked inside the top 50 two years ago, he has climbed back to 148th and will rise into the top 120 next week.

He will play either American John Isner or France’s Adrian Mannarino, who meet later on Friday, in the last four.

Evans made a quick start against 35-year-old Seppi, who was once ranked inside the world’s top 20, by breaking in the first game and going on to claim a 4-0 lead.

Despite Seppi briefly rallying, Evans saw out the opening set and earned a decisive break in the third game of the second set.

He served out victory on his first match point with an ace out wide, reaching the third ATP semi-final of his career and the first since returning to the sport last April.

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Dubai Tennis Championships: Petra Kvitova to meet Belinda Bencic in final

Petra Kvitova wins in Dubai

World number four Petra Kvitova continued her fine start to the 2019 season by beating Hsieh Su-wei in Dubai to reach her third final of the year.

The 28-year-old Czech, who won the Sydney title before losing to Naomi Osaka in the Australian Open final, won 3-6 6-2 6-4 in Friday’s semi-final.

Kvitova will play Swiss youngster Belinda Bencic, who beat Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina, in Saturday’s final.

Bencic, 21, trailed 5-3 in the deciding set before winning 6-2 3-6 7-6 (7-3).

“I think from 3-5, I just completely zoned out. Basically I stayed in the zone, even in the tie-break,” said Bencic, who has been mentored by five-time Grand Slam singles champion Martina Hingis.

“I was barely breathing, just playing automatic. You are not thinking any more. It’s where the instincts just guide you through it.”

The world number 45 beat a top-10 ranked player for the third successive match, having also fought back from behind to see off Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka and Romania’s world number two Simona Halep.

She missed three match points at 6-5 before taking her fourth opportunity in the tie-break.

Bencic dropped down the rankings after suffering a serious wrist injury two years ago, but continued a fine week by reaching her first Premier final on the WTA Tour since 2016.

Bencic faces Kvitova again after she lost 6-1 6-4 to the two-time Wimbledon champion in the third round in Melbourne last month.

“There she was on a roll. She crushed us all,” Bencic said. “It will be a tough final.”

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Delray Beach Open: Juan Martin del Potro reaches quarter-finals in Florida

Juan Martin del Potro

Top seed Juan Martin del Potro eased through to the quarter-finals of the Delray Beach Open with a 6-4 6-4 win against American Reilly Opelka.

The Argentine, playing his first tournament since breaking his kneecap at October’s Shanghai Masters, held serve to love in the final game to wrap up victory in one hour 13 minutes.

The 30-year-old will face American Mackenzie McDonald in the last eight.

Fourth seed Steve Johnson of the USA beat Italian Paolo Lorenzi 7-5 7-5.

He will meet Radu Albot in Friday’s quarter-finals after the Moldovan beat Australia’s Nick Kyrgios 6-2 3-6 6-3.

Elsewhere, Britain’s Dan Evans takes on sixth seed Andreas Seppi of Italy, while American second seed John Isner faced France’s Adrian Mannarino.

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Halep beaten by confident Bencic in Dubai

Belinda Bencic beats Simona Halep in Dubai

World number two Simona Halep was knocked out of the Dubai Championships as Swiss youngster Belinda Bencic again showed fight and resilience to reach the semi-finals.

Bencic, who saved six match points before beating Aryna Sabalenka in the previous round, won 4-6 6-4 6-2.

Halep, 27, struggled with her service game and was broken seven times.

Bencic, 21, missed two match points before claiming her third when the Romanian hit a forehand long.

The world number 45 goes on to play Ukraine’s defending champion Elina Svitolina or Spain’s Carla Suarez Navarro, who meet later on Thursday, in the last four.

French Open champion Halep, who is still without a full-time coach after splitting with Australian Darren Cahill last year, was made to pay for missed opportunities in the second set.

After failing to convert a break point to go 3-1 ahead, and another in an eight-minute game for a 4-2 lead, the former world number one lost concentration in the ninth as Bencic broke to love and served out easily for the second set.

That allowed Bencic to continue to grow in confidence, taking control of the points as she won six games in a row to lead 3-0 in the decider.

She regained her double break for a 5-2 advantage and, after a touch of nerves as Halep provided resistance, closed out victory in two hours and 19 minutes.

Earlier, Australian Open finalist Petra Kvitova reached the semi-finals with a comfortable win over Slovakia’s Viktoria Kuzmova.

The two-time Wimbledon champion, seeded second, cruised to a 6-4 6-0 victory, setting up a last-four match against Chinese Taipei’s Hsieh Su-Wei.

The 33-year-old Taiwanese, who beat Germany’s Angelique Kerber in the previous round, took another notable scalp by beating Czech fourth seed Karolina Pliskova.

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Delray Beach Open: Dan Evans powers into quarter-finals

Britain's Dan Evans

Briton Dan Evans surged into the Delray Beach Open quarter-finals in Florida with an emphatic 6-0 6-2 win against South African wildcard Lloyd Harris.

The 28-year-old British number three, a qualifier in this event, won the first nine games and secured a comfortable victory in an hour and eight minutes.

Evans, who beat defending champion Frances Tiafoe in the previous round, faces Italian Andreas Seppi next.

Sixth seed Seppi beat Australian Jordan Thompson 7-5 6-1.

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Delray Beach Open: Dan Evans and Juan Martin del Potro through in Florida

Dan Evans

British number three Dan Evans is through to the last-16 of the Delray Beach Open in Florida after he beat defending champion Frances Tiafoe.

Tiafoe served for the match at 6-5 in the second set, but Evans broke the Frenchman and won the tie-break 7-1.

World number 148 Evans, 28, then lost serve at 5-4 up in the third, but eventually prevailed 3-6 7-6 (7-1) 7-5.

Argentina’s Juan Martin del Potro won his first match of the year as he returned from a fractured kneecap.

The world number four, who missed last month’s Australian Open, beat Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka 6-3 7-5.

He will play American Reilly Opelka in the last 16, while qualifier Evans faces South African wildcard Lloyd Harris.

American second seed John Isner beat Canadian Peter Polansky 6-3 7-6 (7-4) and faces unseeded Slovakian Lukas Lacko in the next round.

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LGBT group severs links with Navratilova over transgender comments

A US-based organisation that campaigns for LGBT sportspeople has cut its links with tennis legend Martina Navratilova over comments she made about male-to-female transgender athletes.

The 18-times Grand Slam winner wrote it was “cheating” to allow transgender women to compete in women’s sport as they had unfair physical advantages.

Athlete Ally said the remarks were transphobic and perpetuated myths.

It said it had sacked the star from its advisory board and as an ambassador.

In an article for the British newspaper The Sunday Times, Navratilova wrote: “A man can decide to be female, take hormones if required by whatever sporting organisation is concerned, win everything in sight and perhaps earn a small fortune, and then reverse his decision and go back to making babies if he so desires.”

She added: “It’s insane and it’s cheating. I am happy to address a transgender woman in whatever form she prefers, but I would not be happy to compete against her. It would not be fair.”

Trans sportswomen quickly hit back. Rachel McKinnon, who last year became the first transgender woman to win a world track cycling title, called the comments “disturbing, upsetting and deeply transphobic”.

In its statement, Athlete Ally said Navratilova’s comments were “transphobic, based on a false understanding of science and data, and perpetuate dangerous myths that lead to the ongoing targeting of trans people through discriminatory laws, hateful stereotypes and disproportionate violence”.

Navratilova has been a longstanding campaigner for gay rights and suffered abuse when she came out as gay in the 1980s,

Under guidelines introduced in 2016, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) allows athletes transitioning from female to male to participate without restrictions.

Male to female competitors, however, are required to have kept their levels of testosterone – a hormone that increases muscle mass – below a certain level for at least 12 months.

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