Dan Evans ensured England had a sporting winner on the day, no matter how Gareth Southgate’s Three Lions footballers fared in their Euro 2020 last-16 clash with Germany at Wembley.
Delighted to win, I played some good tennis, I am happy with how I came through Dan Evans
The British No.1, seeded at Wimbledon for the first time, was the first home sports competitor to score a victory as he overcame veteran Spaniard Feliciano Lopez 7-6(4) 6-2 7-5 in two-hours and 4-minutes at lunchtime to reach the second round on Day Two of Wimbledon.
And the Aston Villa football fan left Court Two to “hopefully watch England win” in the evening.
Evans has insisted it was a “good mental effort” to beat Lopez.
He said: “It was great, thanks to everybody for coming out, amazing to be back playing at Wimbledon. It was great to be back and I didn’t realise it would be as busy.
“Delighted to win, I played some good tennis, I am happy with how I came through.
“For the last two sets I enjoyed it; the first I was a bit too into myself and when I let go I really got rolling. At the end I was patient, scraped the last game and that was a good mental effort today.
“I am working to get to that place with my game, not give away any days, work on my game and it’s been working well.”
His meeting with Lopez, on paper, seemed a showdown to whet the appetite of the crowd.
Experienced Lopez, 39, in his 77th successive Grand Slam, with his sublime serve and volley game against a home favourite in the form of his life.
Evans had to take second place to Andy Murray when this match was originally scheduled for the day earlier before being held over.
Murray might have been a wild card and world ranked 119 while Evans had been seeded for the first time and leading the home charge for glory.
But we all know about Murraymania, the Scot’s metal hip and his appeal for the Centre Court crowd.
Yet Evans showed against Lopez he might just be coming out from under Murray’s shadow.
He won in Melbourne, risen to his highest ever ranking (25) and defeated Wimbledon favourite Novak Djokovic at the Monte Carlo Open in a year to remember.
Evans’ career path had been unpredictable, particularly when he suffered a ban for testing positive to cocaine.
But the Midlander has managed to get down to business this season.
Stocking up his energy levels with bananas at several changeovers, he bore the fruit of his efforts over 2021 against Lopez.
His Spanish opponent might be 39. but Lopez won the singles and, with Murray, the doubles at Queen’s on the eve of the previous Wimbledon in 2019.
Evans was efficient and mentally strong, although aided by uncharacteristic errors from Lopez, whose game seemed to fall apart in the second set as Evans got a stranglehold on the match.
But the Brit presumed nothing. After all Murray was in an even better position against Nikolos Basilashvili the night before, two sets and 5-0 to the good in the third set before sealing victory in the fourth.
Evans broke Lopez, in his 19th Championships, in the seventh game of the opening set but was immediately broken back as his opponent forced a tiebreak. The home favourite held his nerve, even after losing a two-mini-break advantage, before taking the lead.
The Brit, 31, swept his rival away in the second.
Lopez seemed to become disgruntled and appeared to have a limiting injury as Evans completed the job with minimum fuss.