Born in Birmingham in 1990, Dan Evans’ career has been a story of ups and downs, triumphs and tribulations: on one hand, he has beaten high-ranked players, but, on the other, his funding has been under threat and his attitude has been questioned at certain points. However, the Daniel “Evo” Evans of 2017 is now a world away from the player who began his senior career in 2008.
In 2013, after initially showing a lot of promise and then struggling to travel overseas after his funding was stripped by the LTA, Evans was instrumental in a memorable Davis Cup victory over Russia. The Great Britain team had been 2-0 down, but Evans rounded off a comeback by beating the then World No.80 Evgeny Donskoy in straight sets.
Later that year, he received a main-draw wildcard at the Aegon Championships in London, beating both Guido Pella and Jarkko Nieminen in three sets. This was followed by qualification for the US Open, where he recorded the first of his trademark upsets by besting eleventh-seed Kei Nishikori in straight sets and Australian Bernard Tomic.
However, despite stunning Philipp Kohlschreiber in the quarter-final of the PBZ Zagreb Indoors, Evans’ 2014 season ended in disappointment as his coach, Julien Hoferlin, parted with these words to the Guardian: “He [Evans] has the potential to make himself a top-60 player, but he makes no sacrifices for his sport. He doesn’t understand that tennis has to be his priority. For him, it’s just a brief interlude in his life.”
His poor form continued into the early stages of 2015 until, after a flood of wins restored his world ranking to 300, he was surprisingly included in the Great Britain Davis Cup squad. Consequently, despite not playing in the final, Evans picked up a winner’s medal as a training partner.
In 2016, Evans finally became a household name by breaking into the top 100 in the world for the first time and reaching the third round of Wimbledon, where he faced the “king of grass” and, let’s face it, best-player-ever Roger Federer. Evans then reached the third round of the US Open, beating rising star Alexander Zverev along the way.
Evans has begun 2017 brightly, to say the least. The, at the time of writing, British No.4 and World No.45 (a fulfillment of coach Hoferlin’s prophesy above) shocked Dominic Thiem to reach his first ATP final at the Apia International in Sydney. That achievement was then coupled with an outstanding showing in the Australian Open, where he pulled off yet another upset against seventh-seed Marin Čilić and a straight sets victory over Bernard Tomic.
The right-handed Dan Evans is fast and opportunistic, grabbing any chance to run into the net and finish the rally with a volley. He doesn’t have the fastest of serves or most aggressive of forehands, but this is counteracted by his tactical nous and brilliantly nonchalant improvisation.