Andy Murray had played in two Grand Slam finals, won 15 titles on the main tour and reached No 2 in the world rankings by the time he was Dan Evans’ age, but if the British No 3’s career has been a slow-burner it is at last showing signs of catching fire.
Evans, who was 23 in May, will play in his first match at a Grand Slam tournament other than Wimbledon – where he has had the benefit of wild cards – when he meets Japan’s Kei Nishikori, the world No 12, on the first day of the US Open here today. Having previously won only two matches in Grand Slam qualifying competitions, Evans won three in a row here last week to take his place in the main draw.
A player of undoubted ability, Evans had all too often squandered his talent in the past – he admitted not long ago that he had not made more progress because he had not worked hard enough – but this summer he has shown a renewed commitment to his work.
Having reached two successive Challenger finals in north America, Evans has broken into the world’s top 200 for the first time and last week stood within four spots of James Ward’s position as British No 2 when he reached No 179 in the world. He might even usurp Ward as Britain’s second-choice singles player behind Murray in next month’s Davis Cup tie in Croatia.
Evans, who lost his Lawn Tennis Association funding last year and has had trouble funding trips to overseas tournaments, revealed that it had taken some harsh words from his father to put him on the right path.
“Certain things were annoying me,” Evans said. “We had some heated arguments about it all. He wasn’t happy with what I was doing. Obviously it is a financial stress. Parents help you out a lot from an early age. There are times when you don’t win matches and what I was doing was wasting money.
“He said: ‘That’s it. You’ve wasted all your money.’ I was going out and stuff. I was down to not a lot left and he said he would help me if I would concentrate. I’m grateful for that.”
Murray and Heather Watson are not expected to play their first matches until Wednesday and tomorrow respectively, but Laura Robson, like Evans, is first on court today. The 19-year-old, who reached the fourth round here last year, faces Spain’s Lourdes Dominguez Lino.