For so long I have worried about writing certain things about many different issues/organisations. Then you realise that these people won’t employ you as you might be too middle-lower class in their eyes. I also potentially know too much about tennis and am cut from a slightly different cloth with my hairdo, general appearance and I even have the audacity to speak my own mind. This doesn’t always agree with the powers that be. It is not just people like myself they can be like this with.
Now, we all know I have Dan Evans back and just maybe I am a little biased. I would like to make one thing very clear either way when it comes to the Evans v Sharapova scenario though. Maria Sharapova failed a drugs test for a PERFORMANCE ENHANCING DRUG. Dan Evans failed a test for taking A RECREATIONAL DRUG. Maria Sharapova’s substance meldonium, could have closed the massive gap between Serena and herself. Her book did make it sound like she is a bit obsessed with The G.O.A.T, if your gonna dedicate passages to her afterall, that’s for another blog I suppose. The only thing Dan Evans gained from cocaine was the fact he probably thought he was The G.O.A.T for about 4/5 hours. The point I am making is that they are two totally different drugs with totally different effects.
Evans has looked exceptionally committed to his return and the signs have looked decent, he also clearly knows he made a mistake. Evo has, however, had a tough scheduling since being back on tour. A semi-final in Surbiton was backed up the following week with a runners-up spot to Alex De Minaur in Nottingham. By the way, he had to qualify for Surbiton as he had in Loughborough and Glasgow, previous to this. From Notts he took the wildcard at Queens, where he lost a match he should have won against Adrian Mannarino. Fatigue was starting to set in.
A victory against Evan Hoyt on Thursday, the same week as Queens, was followed by two more rounds of qualifying in a day on Friday. This was just to get into the Wimbledon qualies but Evans obliged by winning all three. It is a lot of tennis though! Having taken Ilya Ivashka out in the first round of qualies, he finally ran out of steam against Mathias Bachinger. This is a player he had a 2-0 head to head against including a win in the Wimbledon qualies in 2015. The 6/0 6/3 scoreline tells a story this time around.
Evans should certainly have been awarded a wildcard into qualifying. Is he getting punished unnecessarily? I think so. Evo seems to have had an interesting relationship with the AELTC and LTA over the years. It has all been well documented in the past. Personally, I feel they have it in for him and I am not the only person to think so. The fact that he was scheduled to play on a non televised court against Bachinger seems even more bizarre and slightly more proof of the relationship between the two. It wasn’t made easy for him. Was it to this extent for say Richard Gasquet? The Frenchman failed for cocaine in 2009 and served about four months of his ban from what I remember. Gasquet claimed it was passed into his system when kissing a female. Sharapova certainly had more help on her comeback in my opinion, Stuttgart gave her a main draw wildcard straight away. I think the evidence is there to suggest Evans has had a rougher time than both of these players. It may not have been all plain sailing for them but it has been made easier than it has for the Brit.
It might not sound a lot, but I for one am gutted Evans won’t be playing at the Championships this year. A player who is perfectly suited to grass court tennis with his all-court game and who is very entertaining to watch. He may be cut from a slightly different cloth to some other players but that’s what makes him who is he. You need players like this, who aren’t afraid to be there own person, not all are. I for one hope he has got his ranking back in the top 100 by next year ( I am sure he will) and with it automatic entry to the slams. Then, go give it ’em!
Andy Del Potro