APTOS, August 14, 2016
With both US-Americans eliminated in the $100,000 Nordic Naturals Challenger semifinal rounds, an unlikely finals matchup is set for Sunday between No. 1 seed Daniel Evans, 26, No. 80 in the world and qualifier Cameron Norrie, 20, currently playing for Texas Christian University.
The two, at opposite points in their careers, will meet in the finals after knocking out both American semifinalists on Saturday. No. 1 seed Evans forced out No. 3 seed Bjorn Fratangelo 6-3, 6-3. Recently, the two have played multiple times, each time Evans walking away with the win.
This year Evans confidence continues to grow match-by-match with victories over No. 34 Grigor Dimitrov, No. 38 Alexandr Dolgopolov, No. 89 Ricardas Berankis, No. 74 John Millman and many more top-ranked players. He reached a ranking high of No. 74 last month and is enjoying moments like these.
“I didn’t feel I was playing that well coming into Aptos, but I am looking forward to tomorrow’s final and the U.S. Open coming up,” Evans said. “But right now it’s all good fun.”
Until 2015, a No. 1 seed had yet to win the Aptos Challenger in 28 years. Last year John Millman overcame the so-called curse and clinched the title despite the added pressure. On Sunday, Daniel Evans will compete for his chance to do the same and make history for the second year in a row.
“As the top seed you obviously want to win the tournament,” Evans said. “Taking it match-by-match it’s been good so far. I am looking forward to trying to find a way to win tomorrow.”
On the other end, Norrie defeated qualifier Eric Quigly on Saturday 3-6, 6-2, 6-4. In the middle of his college career, Norrie plays professional events whenever his college tennis schedule allows. This summer, Norrie’s tournament schedule has yielded results that are making him question when it is he will commit full time to tennis.
“I play pro tournaments when I can and try to make the most of it,” Norrie said. “I’ve improved a lot at TCU. I still have to decide this upcoming fall whether I’m going to go back or possibly take some time off to focus on tennis.”
Evans and Norrie, both from Great Britain, have trained together at home in the past. Sunday’s final rounds begin with doubles at 1 p.m. local time followed by singles at Seascape Sports Club.