At 23 years of age and an impressive showing at the US Open, Evans looks destined to break into the top 100 and be a more regular face in the majors. However, it wasn’t quite all plain sailing for the Birmingham lad. When money’s tough following your tennis dreams can’t be easy, just ask this man.
After success in the juniors and promising signs, during Wimbledon of that year a photograph was taken showing Evans at a nightclub in the early hours of the same day he was due to be on court. The LTA subsequently handed him a suspension to Nov ember 2008 and cut his funding, coaching and access to facilities.
While suspended from contact and relations to the LTA, he began to make a name for himself in the Futures. Three Futures title helped him win the LTA Male Junior Player of the Year 2008 accolade.
2009 saw Dan make his Davis Cup debut for Britain and a title on the Challenger Tour, meaning The All England Club came calling with a wildcard entry to make Wimbledon his first slam in the main draw. Evans was handed a tough draw against Nikolay Davydenko, who eventually won in straight sets.
Prior to 2010 the Brit’s only taste of action on the ATP Tour was as a wildcard at Queen’s. The Heineken Open in Auckland saw him qualify via the qualifiers – only to be defeated in the first round.
His next real headline grabber was last year in a 3-2 Davis Cup victory over Slovakia. Evans played an instrumental part in the win, securing victories in his two singles matches over players ranked higher than him. Last year he also enjoyed more title triumph at Futures level.
A famous Davis Cup match earlier this year propelled the Brit to prominence. Britain defeated Russia 3-2. Evans himself was defeated in five sets to the world number 67 and then won the deciding match of the tie against the world number 80 in straight sets. The mammoth win could well be the catalyst for spurring him on to his recent form.
Queen’s Club handed him a wildcard earlier this year, which he took full advantage of. The world number 75 and 37 fell victim to the 23 year-old’s impressive form. Next up was one-time slam champion Juan Martin del Potro, who beat the Briton in straight sets. But there’s no shame in being defeated by an eventual Wimbledon semi-finalist.
Further accomplishment followed in the Challengers with two successive finals, setting up Evans for a date with New York.
Travelling the world and playing tennis can be very tough. He has had some notable scalps of higher ranked players in his career but ultimately it’s consistency on the Futures and Challengers that will improve the ranking most considerably. The US Open provided Evans with the chance to show the tennis stage what he can do and why it shouldn’t be long before he’s spotted more frequently on the big stages. – Nathan Morley
In the final Slam of the year he announced himself to the international crowd by reaching the third round, when he hadn’t even attempted qualifying for the tournament before. It’s not his first Grand Slam, as he has competed at Wimbledon since 2009 (excluding 2012), but even with the help of two wildcards he has never reached beyond the first round.
At the 2013 US Open though, he won all of his best of three set qualifiers, giving him a daunting place with Kei Nishikori in the first round. However, he grabbed the attention of the tennis world as he dispatched the eleventh seed i straight sets! It was a closer match than it appears at first, with both players seeming quite even through the first two sets, edged by the Brit 6-4, 6-4. In the third set, he opened up a bit and really taking out of his Japanese opponent, winning it 6-2. The match was a bit messy from both sides of the court, with 71 unforced errors between them (Evans 33; Nishikori 38), but the 23 year-old Briton was able to return almost everything tat was thrown at him, and place it awkwardly for Nishikori. He was also helped on by hundreds of amazed spectators, who filled up the paths by Court 8 to cheer on the underdog. Below are some highlights from their match (3 minutes).
Dan Evans was cool and composed after the match, saying it was “just another good match [he’s] won in America,” and said he won because he “had a lot of confidence that [he] could beat him,” continuing with “I’ve been training pretty hard, so that’s definitely helped, and I’ve calmed down a bit, matured a little bit as well, and I’ve been very controlled on court.”
Next the Brit faced the Australian who was born in Germany and lives in Monte Carlo – it’s Bernard Tomic. Although, he’s ranked 52nd, he reached the fourth round at Wimbledon and he made it look like he reach the third in Flushing Meadows. He dominated the start of the match and won the opening set 6-1. However, Evans has a very accurate swinging forehand. The style in which the ball is played, and the variation between his other shots, made it hard for the Aussie to decipher where the ball would land next, resulting in a total of 44 winners. Yet, his style carries a lot of risk in my view, as he also committed 44 unforced errors! Strong serving from Evans (his fastest was 132mph!) and few winners from Tomic led to the Brit taking the match 1-6, 6-3, 7-6, 6-3.
In the next round Dan was faced with (as far as I know) his first Grand Slam Stadium – The Louis Armstrong Stadium. His opponent? Tommy Robredo, who has gone on to beat Roger Federer in the next round. After the match the Swiss player said he “self-destructed,” referring to his 43 unforced errors over his straight sets loss. What lost Dan Evans his match, was a total of 58 unforced errors, if this had been less, I think he would have won, as he hit more winners than the Spaniard. His low, swinging forehand is the problem, if it works it’s one of the best shots in tennis, but if it doesn’t – you lose. Highlights (3 minutes) below of Robredo’s 7-6, 6-1, 4-6, 7-5 win.
This time last year Dan Evans had just been thrashed by the world 783, Tom Burn in the semi-finals of a Futures event in Wrexham. He earned just over £300 for that effort. He took the best out of former world number five Tommy Robredo in the third round of a Grand Slam and this time he earns $93,000 – not a bad turnaround in one year. – Jacob Lee