It is a blog that I have wanted to write for a while but have been waiting for the right time. Maybe with Evo winning in both Surbiton and Nottingham recently I am too late. Was it a surprise to me that he won both of these events? Not at all. It is difficult not to get too excited about the next few weeks, the signs are good and have been for some time now. Even having lost to Stan at Queens last week, I am quite happy to put that down to part-tiredness. The previous two weeks must have taken a fair amount out of him. He has a tough draw in Eastbourne but one he could get through, if he doesn’t it is no big drama as the summer and beyond look very bright.
I am hoping for (quite) big things over the next few weeks. Evo is a player that nobody will want to face at Wimbledon. I really hope the nation gets being him this year given the chance. Evans loves a big atmosphere and the two could work well together. I honestly see no reason why a quarter-final at SW19 is totally unrealistic with a reasonable draw, if not this year then maybe next? Of course, at the moment that is totally draw dependant but it is certainly possible. It has all got off to a good start but the hard work will now begin, I honestly think he will have his best grass court campaign to date this season and by some way. My biggest concern is that it is too much tennis? That isn’t the worst feeling in the World though, is it?
For me, Evo represents the normal person. He has made mistakes haven’t most of us? He speaks his mind, so what?? For me, there is a truthfulness there. The way he has got his career back on track is a great effort. He has served his time for past misdemeanours and it is time to appreciate the talented player that he is. It is easy for me to say as I have always stuck up for him but I think he will show everyone this time around. We have seen it in glimpses many times before with his runs to the last 16 in Australia in 2017 and the last 32 at the US Open in both 2013 and 2016. There was also a third-round appearance at Wimbledon in 2016 and a second-round outing having made it through qualies in Melbourne this year. I for one fully believe he has a little bit more in him than that.
Victories in the slams include wins over Marin Cilic, Kei Nishikori, a decent Alexandr Dolgopolov and a young Sascha Zverev. Don’t forget Bernie Tomic a couple of times too. You only need to look at who it has taken to put him out. Losses to Stan (in five in NYC) having had match point (Stan went on to win in New York that year), Tsonga and the small matter of Federer a couple of times. show he’s not easy to put away when in the zone. He always gives them a game as well and I am sure the lists will grow.
One of the many reasons why I am personally a big fan is that his game is the closest thing to Tim Henman (one of my idols and Evo’s) that we have seen since the great man IMO. In playing style that is. It is such a rare commodity in this day and age to be so naturally comfortably making your way to the net and volleying. It is effortless, as is the slice backhand, this makes him a pretty tricky opponent. Not just on the grass courts but also on the indoor and outdoor hards.
There is certainly no reason why Evo won’t improve on his highest ranking to date of 41 in March 2017, he is currently 65. There isn’t much for him to defend now for a few months apart from the Vancouver Challenger win in August last year. The US hard courts suit his game too, so sit back and enjoy the ride.
In Evo we Trust.
Andy Del Potro