British No.1 Dan Evans fought through to the semi-finals of the European Open in Antwerp after saving a match point against Karen Khachanov – Russia’s world No.17 – in a contest that featured plenty of tantrums and some post-watershed language.
The bad blood was not so much between the players as it was between Khachanov and chair umpire Adel Nour, who made one of the worst over-rules ever seen in an ATP Tour match in the middle of the first set.
That point was not of great significance in the big picture, as Khachanov still took the game and the set, despite Nour mistakenly ruling that a ball which bounced several inches inside the baseline had flown long. “I saw it out,” he told a furious Khachanov.
But the earlier error then caused Khachanov to blow up completely in the second-set tie-break. Having failed to convert a match point at 6-5, thanks to an unreturnable Evans serve, he then felt that the officials had erred again when the score stood at 7-7.
Such incidents are usually resolved by Hawk-Eye challenges, but Antwerp is not supplying the ball-tracking service this year, So Khachanov raged at Nour, saying “What are you doing here? What are you for? We can call the score.”
That disputed call – which did actually seem to be correct, judging by TV replays that showed Evans’s forehand drive clipping the edge of the line – took the score to 8-7, and Evans wrapped up the tie-break on the next point. Khachanov kicked the net and whacked the umpire’s chair twice with his racket before taking a lengthy bathroom break.
The incident felt like a turning point, and sure enough, Evans broke serve in the opening game of the deciding set before completing a 3-6, 7-6, 6-4 win. Asked later if he had seen the meltdown as an encouraging sign, Evans replied “It can't be a bad sign but there was still a long, long way to go in the match.
“The first one was obviously pretty clear – the one on the baseline. It was in. But it is not for me to start giving points away, I don't feel. I am not going to expect him to give them either. You just play to the call.”
Meanwhile the British Fed Cup captain Anne Keothavong will become the first BAME person on the boards of either the Lawn Tennis Association or the All England Club after being nominated to the latter.