23 Feb Amazing rally in Delray sends Albot to his first ATP final
By STEVE DORSEY
DELRAY BEACH, Fla. – There are come-from-behind wins, and then there is the stunning one that Radu Albot of Moldova orchestrated Saturday night at the ATP Tour’s Delray Beach Open by VITACOST.com.
Albot won 12 consecutive games after dropping the first set to defeat American Mackenzie McDonald 3-6, 6-0, 6-0 in the singles semifinals, sending Albot to his first career ATP Tour final.
“I think a lot of players come back (from deficits). It’s tennis, you have to win two (sets), lose one (and) it’s a fight. This is an achievement that I’ve never done before,” Albot said following his milestone victory.
Albot will face Daniel Evans of Great Britain in Sunday’s championship match at 3 p.m. EDT. It will be a matchup of two 5-foot-9 players who have made up for what they lack in height with gritty, inspired tennis this week at the Delray Beach Stadium and Tennis Center.
Albot, who is ranked No. 82 in the world, didn’t have much time to celebrate his victory, however. After being granted suitable rest, he returned to the court late Saturday night for his doubles semifinal with teammate Yoshihito Nishioka.
“Tomorrow is a different day, a different match,” Albot said when asked about his matchup against Evans, whom he has never faced on the ATP Tour. “I need to relax a little bit to enjoy the moment and I’ll think about it a little bit later.”
Albot is sure that there was plenty of celebrating going on in his hometown of Chisinau, Moldova, which is seven hours ahead of here, so it was about 4:30 a.m. there when he finished off McDonald.
“I’m sure my parents are watching and not sleeping,” Albot said. “I think they’re very happy and can go to bed now knowing that I’m in the finals.”
Albot began playing tennis at 8 years old after his father happened to watch a match on television and encouraged his son to give it a try. Now 29, Albot is blazing a tennis trail as the most celebrated player in the small nation of Moldova in Eastern Europe.
“I’m carrying the flag all around the world,” Albot said of his home country. “This means a lot. I hope I can be an inspiration for kids there.”