Andy will bounce back in Davis Cup, warns Evans as pair gear up for Croatia clash

By Mark Ryan

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Even before Dan Evans presses his forefinger to his lips, the message is clear from the body art on  the index finger of his right hand.

The tattoo — a simple ‘Shhh…’ — was done for fun but it can take on many meanings, particularly when there is a friend to defend.

So ‘Shhh…, Andy Murray will silence his critics sooner than we think.’ Great Britain’s Davis Cup team go to Croatia for a vital play-off next week for the chance to return to the World Group for the first time since 2008.

Special run: Dan Evans celebrates during his sensational run in the US Open

Special run: Dan Evans celebrates during his sensational run in the US Open

‘Andy will be very tough to beat in Croatia after what’s happened,’ said Evans. ‘You’ll see.’

There was much wailing and gnashing of teeth following Murray’s temperamental defeat at the hands  of Switzerland’s Stanislas Wawrinka in the quarter-final of the US Open in New York.

But Evans claims Murray’s meltdown, complete with adolescent smashing of racket when he lost the first of three straight sets, was understandable.

‘Andy is a feisty character, he was trying unbelievably hard, he wanted to win another Grand Slam so much,’ said Evans. ‘Can you imagine how emotionally draining Wimbledon must have been for him?

'He has smashed his racket like that many times before, it doesn’t matter. He’ll be back for the Davis Cup and I’ll be right there with him.’

It was Evans, not Murray, who took the US Open by storm last week and won himself a whole new set of admirers. He humbled Aussie battler Bernard Tomic and might have beaten Spanish veteran Tommy Robredo to set up a quarter-final against Roger Federer.

But there will be no ribbing of  Murray about who had the more impressive run, or the fact that it is Evans, not Murray, who is supposed to have the badboy reputation.

Screaming: A frustrated Andy Murray as he loses out to Stan Wawrinka

Screaming: A frustrated Andy Murray as he loses out to Stan Wawrinka

‘I won’t be bringing up the subject of that match against Wawrinka because he won’t want to talk about it,’ said Evans. ‘But you’ll see how hard he is to beat over there in Croatia — and in the next Slam in Australia.’

Evans is relishing the chance to team up with the British No 1 as they seek to silence the fanatical Croat crowd. It will be good to get back to tennis after a strange few days, during which he discovered that his US Open exploits have made him famous back home. 

‘It’s a little embarrassing really,’ said the 23-year-old. ‘I’ve been out in Solihull and Birmingham, just having a quiet time with friends, and people have come up to me and said “well done”. A few things will change now, but it’s all positive I suppose.’

One thing has already had to change — his attitude towards alcohol. ‘I did like to go out and have a
drink with my friends, and maybe a little bit too much sometimes,’ he admitted. ‘But then again every 21- or 22-year-old does.’

But not every young man has the chance to become a top tennis player.

Evans’s father David, an electrician, and his mother Bernadette, a nurse, made sacrifices to give Dan the best possible opportunity to become a professional. He appeared to be wasting it. ‘I was upsetting people at home for not putting in the training,’ he said.

Tough luck: Evans was disappointed as he finally went down to Spaniard Tommy Robredo in four rounds

Tough luck: Evans was disappointed as he finally went down to Spaniard Tommy Robredo in four rounds

‘Causing trouble with family isn’t a smart move. I saw other young players I’d been close to fall by the wayside and I didn’t want to join them. I talked to a lot of people but in the end the change had to come from inside me.’ 

Now he has proved you do not have to be born with a silver spoon in your mouth to make it. ‘My mum and dad are working class and now we’ve shown that a player can come through from that background as well.’

And now that he is a reformed character, what will he do instead of party? ‘I play a lot of golf, I go to see family, I have two little nephews I love spending time with.’

Anyone who doubts his ability to stay on the straight and narrow can either ‘Shhh…’ or look at another of his tattoos. His left arm quotes Oscar Wilde: ‘Every saint has a past, every sinner has a future.’

What Evans really wants is to let his tennis do the talking. But the targets of the world No 179, are not spectacular by the standards of most up-and-coming sportsmen.

Problem: Evans shows off the nipples which were causing his issues to Davis Cup captain Leon Smith

Problem: Evans shows off the nipples which were causing his issues to Davis Cup captain Leon Smith

‘I’d like to be in the top 100 by the end of the year and get into the Australian Open, then eventually reach the top 50.’

His US Open heroics will do his ranking no harm. But for the highlight of his career, you have to return to the Davis Cup. Evans won a famous victory against Russian Evgeny Donskoy earlier this year to ensure that Britain triumphed in a memorable comeback to reach this play-off stage. 

‘The US Open run was special but winning in the Davis Cup is the best because you’re doing it for the team,’ he explained. And Evans is convinced that the team environment will be just the tonic Murray needs. ‘He is better than me.

More of an idol, really,’ said Evans. With that attitude, the new, disciplined Dan Evans can go far.

 

The comments below have not been moderated.

Good luck to our team, I actually do not understand why people think that Andy needs to 'bounce back' I dont think he has gone anywhere, he reached the quarter finals, had he have gone out in the first round then I would understand it a little better, even then, all players have an off day. I get what McEnroe said about him having a rest after they hype of Wimbledon, but with the Davis cup and Shanghai coming up, I doubt Andy will do that. I think he will win the Australian Open, but for now, good luck boys.

Click to rate     Rating   14

Nice article. Thank you. It's good to know that the people around him recognise just what it cost for him to win Wimbledon. No wonder it's finally got to him. Come on Dan, live up to that talent and start sharing the pressure a bit.

Click to rate     Rating   22

Good luck on Friday lads, give it your all. We are behind you.

Click to rate     Rating   36

DM Thank you for this report. It is nice to see Dan backing Andy and I am sure he is right Andy will be back on form for the Davis Cup. They have a good team this year , so I say Good Luck Lads do us fans and Great Britain Proud.

Click to rate     Rating   37
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