Evans confident he can match tall order
British second string's role could prove vital in Davis Cup tie against Poland
Friday 18 September 2009
The contrasts could hardly be greater as Britain face Poland at the Echo Arena in Liverpool in the Davis Cup this weekend. As if the discrepancy in today's opening singles rubber between Andy Murray, the world No 3, and Michal Przysiezny, the world No 678, was not enough, they will be followed on court by Dan Evans, who is 5ft 9in tall, and Jerzy Janowicz, who stands at 6ft 8in.
While the first contest should indeed prove a major mismatch, the second could be decisive in this relegation play-off, which will decide which of the two teams is relegated to Europe Africa Zone Group Two, effectively the Davis Cup's third division. Britain last played at that level, currently occupied by the likes of Lithuania, Egypt and Hungary, 13 years ago.
The Poles have one of the game's best doubles teams in Marcin Matkowski and Mariusz Fyrstenberg (the world's No 11-ranked pair meet Murray and Ross Hutchins tomorrow), which means that Britain may well need Evans to win one of his two matches.
Evans, 19, will make his Davis Cup debut after James Ward and Josh Goodall, British No 2 and No 3 respectively, pulled out with illness. Goodall, who has been laid low by a virus, withdrew last week, while Ward was sent home yesterday suffering from glandular fever. Colin Fleming, who can play singles and doubles, is the fourth man in the squad.
Although Evans' talent has rarely been in doubt, there have been major question marks over his size and, perhaps more importantly, his commitment and attitude.
Last year the Lawn Tennis Association took away all his funding for four months after he was seen in a nightclub in the early hours of the morning on the day of his boys' doubles match at Wimbledon, which he lost in straight sets. Earlier in the summer he was given a code violation for hitting a ball into the stands on his way to a 50-minute defeat by Xavier Malisse in the Artois Championships at Queen's Club, where he had been given a wild card.
Last month, however, the Birmingham teenager climbed to a career-high No 248 in the world rankings (he is currently No 302) after winning a Challenger tournament in Jersey in March and reaching the semi-finals of another event in Kentucky in July. He is not short of confidence. "I hope I'm on this court a little longer than I was in the Stella," he said with a smile yesterday. "I'm capable of winning my matches."
Janowicz, the world No 261, hits the ball as hard as you would expect for a player of his size, but Evans insisted: "I think it's a good match-up for me. He serves big, but he doesn't move that well."
Przysiezny, Murray's opponent, was the world No 190 two years ago and the Scot said he would not be taking anything for granted. Murray is still having daily treatment on his inflamed left wrist, which he hurt in the US Open, but is ready to play three matches this weekend. "I'll have some time off after this match has finished and I can let it get better," he said.
Lukasz Kubot is Poland's highest ranked player (No 112 in singles and No 16 in doubles) but has not played for his country for two years. "We don't need him because we feel really comfortable about Michal and Jerzy," Matkowski said. "For the four of us, playing in the Davis Cup and playing for our country comes first. You have to put your personal agenda on the side. He didn't do that and that's his choice."
Davis Cup relegation play-off Great Britain v Poland (Echo Arena, Liverpool). Draw (GB names first): Today (12.00 start): A Murray v M Przysiezny; D Evans v J Janowicz. Tomorrow (14.30): R Hutchins and Murray v M Matkowski and M Fyrstenberg. Sunday (13.00): Murray v Janowicz; Evans v Przysiezny.
Number of consecutive Davis Cup singles matches Andy Murray has won since September 2005.
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