Dan Evans powered past fellow Briton, Neil Pauffley, 6-3 7-6(5) in one hour and twenty-two minutes to make the final round of qualifying in Surbiton. Once a top fifty player, Evans finds himself down at #858 in the world due to recently returning from a suspension so each win is vital for the Briton to regain his place in the upper echelons of the game.
The former World #41 demonstrated great fight and managed to compose himself when he failed to serve out the match at the first time of asking. On his fourth match point, Evans sealed the win. When I interviewed him after the match he started off by praising the man he had just defeated.
“I’ve known Neil a long time so it can be difficult, he made a lot of balls in there so I was glad to get the win.”
Evans was in full flow in front of a packed crowd on Court 3, and it was clear the he was enjoying the fight out there. After all, he has not been able to compete on grass for a year.
“I played well here last year and really enjoy it on the grass so I hope I can win some more matches this week.”
Next up for the gritty competitor will be another Briton, Ed Corrie, someone he is familiar with as they are both similar in age. “I know Corrie pretty well,” Evans told me after his victory. He also explained how it is tricky to devise a game plan due to the nature of the surface.
“it’s difficult on a grass court to have many tactics because the points are over pretty quick.”
Corrie fought through a three-set match against British wild card, Jack Molloy. Corrie played Evans a few weeks ago at the Glasgow Challenger and looks to take positives from that match where he lost 6-3, 7-6(6). That contest was actually Evans’ first match back following a suspension.
“Me and Dan played a really close match in Glasgow a few weeks ago. I had set points in the second set.”
Although Ed Corrie is ranked 413 places above his next opponent, Evans still goes into the match as the favourite as he has enjoyed so much success on the ATP Tour and his ranking does not equate to his ability at the moment. Despite feeling confident from their last encounter, Corrie is aware of the quality Evans can produce.
“If Dan plays his best it’s tough to deal with, but I’ll try and make it difficult for him.”
This week could end up being massive for Dan Evans as he continues his comeback. It is an even more important time of the season for him because grass is the surface he plays best his on and there is a huge opportunity for him to get his ranking up over the next few weeks. All of his focus will be on his next opponent, Ed Corrie.