Andy Murray may still be perceived by the tennis public as being the top British player in view of his achievements over the past decade, but its Dan Evans who has earned the position of top Brit by winning those bagging rights on Sunday.
I’m going to take a week off now and then start to look forward to the restart of the ATP Tour. When tennis resumes its going to be brutal Dan Evans
Having beaten the former world number one, Murray, currently ranked 129, in the semi-finals, Evans, ranked 28 in world terms, dropped just five games to secure victory over Kyle Edmund, ranked 44 and a former national No.1, in the final of the Schroders Battle of the Brits.
Evans, who hadn’t lost a match n the group stage of the weeklong event at the NTC in Roehampton, defeated his rival 6-3 6-2 after just 78-minutes to reinforce his place at the top of the British game.
The 30-year-old from Birmingham recovered from dropping his opening serve by immediately breaking back and then running rings around the powerful Edmund game with his retrieving, speed about the court and intensity to maintain pressure on an opponent who was showing signs of fatigue.
“It has been a long week and a great week,” said Evans, who made only three unforced errors compared to Edmund’s 20. In addition, he hit 13 winners and won 78% of his first service points in what was his first win over his rival in four meetings.
He also praised the organisers, especially Jamie Murray who came up with the idea of the tournament.
“I wasn’t sure how it would work out. Thanks to everyone who has worked on it, all the players have loved it – that’s the truth. Everyone has been raving about the tournament,” the inaugural champion said.
Evans agreed he was in the best physical shape of his career having joined up with Tim Henman’s former fitness coach Kieron Vorster, adding: “I’m going to take a week off now and then start to look forward to the restart of the ATP Tour. When tennis resumes its going to be brutal.”
Edmund was equally enthusiastic about the ‘exhibition’ event which had raised some £100,000 for the NHS Charities saying it was similar to playing a proper tournament on the tour which had been suspended since March.
“Thanks for this event, it was pretty much like a Tour event this week,” he commented.
“I didn’t think it would be this big but it turned out really well. The players all put in a big shift but those off of it put in a bigger one.
“The idea of the event in the pandemic, with the rules in place, was a success. Jamie made it as successful as possible.”
Prior to the final, the third-place playoff match between the losing semi-finalists was played but without Andy Murray who withdrew with some minor shin problems.
His place was taken by James Ward with Murray standing in as his coach for the clash with Cameron Norrie
“This is by far the most I’ve done in the last seven months. My left shin has been an issue, it was a bit sore after my first match, then it was okay for a couple days then I felt it after I finished my match with Evo,” he revealed.
Norrie, the British No.3, took the honours 6-3 7-5 as expected but he was pushed hard by Ward in the second.
Jamie Murray, the promoter of the event who had earlier won the doubles title in partnership with Neal Skupski, was happy with the week’s work
“It has been a great week, a lot of fun, all the players have really bought into the event,” Murray said.
“It has been a lot of hard work from such a small team. There has been a great energy around the whole tournament and hopefully get back to normal tennis soon.”