Dan Evans launches attack on Man City chief over state of British tennis
Dan Evans has claimed Emma Raducanu’s US Open triumph “papered over the cracks” in British tennis with only three singles players at this year’s French Open. And the British No.2 launched an extraordinary personal attack on former LTA stat man Simon Timson – who is now performance director at Manchester City.
With Andy Murray getting ready for the grasscourt season, Evans, Cam Norrie and Jack Draper are the only British singles players in the main draw at the claycourt Slam after 10 lost in qualifying. Raducanu was eligible but is out after undergoing operations on both her wrists and ankles to leave no British women playing in the singles at a Major since the 2009 US Open.
Raducanu’s 2021 New York seemed to herald a brave new dawn in British tennis but she is still British No.1 despite falling to world No.106.
“Has her success papered over the cracks? Yeah,” said No.20 seed Evans. “We’ve been lucky, or they’ve been lucky that they had a Grand Slam champion and she was a very good tennis player but the rankings don’t lie, do they? Men’s or women’s, the rankings don’t lie. Men, not many of us playing qualies, not many in the main draw. I don’t want to sound like a broken record. But there’s way further to go than just the top players. It’s from the bottom up.
We’re in a massive, massive habit of sending people to college now. I don’t think that massively helps. I think the grass last year really helped paper over some cracks as well. There were some good results but if you look at the players who did pretty good on the grass last year, who were wildcards etc, rankings don’t lie. After the grass, there will be a bit of soul-searching I imagine, after their holidays and after the grass, obviously.”
Evans, who claimed the two outdoor claycourts at the National Tennis Centre, were “not fit for purpose”, served a one-year ban after testing positive for cocaine in 2017. He added: “You’ve got to work hard. I know what it’s like to not work hard and what you get from that and I know what it’s like to work hard and get decent rewards.”
The Aston Villa fan, 33, is used to sporting frustration and disappointment. But asked how he felt about the state of British tennis, he claimed: “I couldn’t give a s*** about it. If you’ve got a guy Simon Timson, who sat next to me after I came back from my drug ban and told me: ‘With all due respect to James Ward here and Heather Watson, I put you three in the same bracket. You are close to finishing your career.’ And I said ‘Thanks, man, that was that meeting.’ And I seem to have done all right since that meeting. He sent me to a psychologist, that was about it. That’s what Simon did.
“I told him that it was a stepping stone, the job and that’s exactly what it was. He wouldn’t be there in three years and he wasn’t so it’s a shame really.”
Timson worked as performance director at the LTA from 2016-20 before joining the Premier League champions.
Evans won his first ever main draw match here last year and in the first round faces Thanasi Kokkinakis, the Aussie wildcard who lost a five-set epic to Murray in the second round of the Australian Open.
“I watched a bit of the start,” said the world No.24. “Kokkinakis is obviously very good in Australia, plays very good tennis but it’s totally different circumstances. Clay court is probably his least favourite surface I imagine. It’s going to be a good match, a tough match, but it’s a match which I hopefully can win.”
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