Dan Evans’ transformation into top singles and doubles player shows hard work can pay off
It is almost four years since Dan Evans was forced to make an announcement that would have been beyond his worst nightmares.
Shortly before his home Grand Slam at Wimbledon in 2017, the then 27-year-old announced that he had failed a drugs test in a hastily-arranged press conference.
Having tested positive for cocaine, Evans was banned for a year.
Evans had been the “bad boy” of tennis before that as he twice had his funding stripped for a lack of effort, but at this time things appeared different. He had been progressing up the ATP Rankings, and looked set to rise further.
His ban was an unfortunate, if self-inflicted, though provided further motivation for him to return and fulfil his potential.
“You’re disgusted with what you did, but you have to move on at some point,” he said last year when reflecting on his ban.
“I just feel grateful for when I get out on the court.”
Almost three years on since his return, things could not be much better for Evans.
The 30-year-old sits at a career high of 26 in the ATP Rankings – a position he first achieved after winning a maiden ATP Tour title in Melbourne earlier this season.
He surged back up to that spots this week after a stellar run to the last four of the Monte-Carlo Masters, most notably beating world No 1 Novak Djokovic in straight sets in the third round.
The EVO-lution is here 😳
— ATP Tour (@atptour) April 15, 2021
Though Djokovic was not at his best it was a hugely significant win and moment for Evans, and one he would not have been able to achieve in the past, as the tennis betting odds before any match up show.
His recent success, and the possibilities to progress even further, shows just how serious he is now taking his career, and how his new-found commitment and hard work within the sport is well and truly paying off.
From criticising doubles players to reaching ATP Masters 1000 doubles finals
If we needed any further indication of this, it is that he has also proven to be very successful in doubles in recent weeks.
Just two years ago, Evans clashed with Jamie Murray when he described doubles players as “people who didn’t make it at singles and people who didn’t have the attitude to work hard enough to make it in the singles game”.
What quite switched his opinion remains to be seen, but in the past few weeks Evans and his partner Neal Skupski have reached two Masters 1000 finals.
Their run to the final in Monte-Carlo came following a breakthrough run to the final at the Miami Open, having not been seeded at either event.
For Skupski, who has been solely a doubles player throughout his professional career, this recent success has pushed him to career high on the doubles ranking and potentially a spot at the ATP Finals for the first time.
Dan Evans & Neal Skupski end as runners-up at the Monte-Carlo Masters
Dan & Neal lose a close final 6-3, 4-6, 10-7 to No.3 seeds Nikola Mektic & Mate Pavic #BackTheBrits 🇬🇧
— LTA (@the_LTA) April 18, 2021
Evans cannot change mistakes in the past, or take back controversial comments he may have made.
However, if we needed any proof on both his growth as a tennis player and as a person, the past few weeks and months – as well as his whole return in 2018 – prove just how much progress he has made.
With several months of the season still left, the possibility to achieve even more in both singles and doubles is there for him.
Follow Oli Jefford on Twitter @odicksonjefford.
Andy Murray gives positive assessment of week in Rome, saying ‘I’m happy I came over here’
Murray has been practising with top players.
Rafael Nadal saves two match points as he battles back from the brink against Denis Shapovalov
The Spaniard was far from his best against Shapovalov.
Coco Gauff savours Aryna Sabalenka victory, insists ‘I have no pressure’ ahead of Ashleigh Barty clash
“It will be great to see where my level is,” says Gauff.
‘It wasn’t fun. It was kind of brutal for me,’ admits Iga Swiatek after tough win over Barbora Krejcikova
Iga Swiatek saved two match points in Rome.
Major coup for Emilia-Romagna Open as Serena Williams changes plans and adds event to her schedule
Serena Williams off to Parma next week.
‘It was nice to see them back,’ says Novak Djokovic as fans return to watch him win at Italian Open
Another win for Novak Djokovic at the Italian Open.
Matteo Berrettini’s improvement paying off as Italian recaptures good form in 2021
Oli Jefford explains why Matteo Berrittini has the potential become one of the biggest names in tennis.
‘It’s just a matter of time’ before she will be ‘raring to go’ on clay, says Serena Williams
“It is what it is,” says Serena Williams.
Rafael Nadal gives his verdict on ‘complete player’ Jannik Sinner after Italian Open victory
“He’s still improving all the time,” says Nadal about Sinner.
‘It’s a special win,’ says Nadia Podoroska after upsetting Serena Williams at Italian Open
Williams was playing the 1,000 match of her career.