Dan Evans is continuing his rehabilitation following his one year ban for a recreational drug offence and in the nine months since his return, has shown admirable determination to make up for lost time by playing the Challenger circuit to gain enough ranking points to enter the qualifying tournament.
I’ve obviously got to try and be smarter on the court, like when I get a chance, take it straightaway. It’s not ideal to be running around, especially in that heat, for hours, and I thought I did that pretty well today Dan Evans
Winning through three matches the former world No. 41 secured his place in the main draw of a Grand Slam for the first time in nearly two years and successful negotiated his way past Japan’s Tatsuma Ito, another qualifier, 7-5 6-1 7-6(8) and a meeting with Roger Federer.
“I feel pretty good,” Evans said. “It’s difficult to compare [to two years ago]. Winning matches at grand slams is always good.”
And looking ahead to his meeting with the world No.3, he added: “It’s not very often you get to play Roger on obviously a pretty big court, I’m guessing. I look forward to it.
“I think I’m more mature, obviously with age and stuff,” he continued. “I’ve obviously got to try and be smarter on the court, like when I get a chance, take it straightaway. It’s not ideal to be running around, especially in that heat, for hours, and I thought I did that pretty well today.”
Meanwhile last year’s Melbourne semi-finalist Kyle Edmund, who withdrew from last week’s Sydney International with a niggling knee problem, was outplayed by the former top-tenner Tomas Bredych 6-3 6-0 7-5.
“It was obviously not fun,” Edmund declared. “Not nice losing, of course. It was like a one-sided defeat, as well. Clearly not what I wanted. Not a lot of fun. But it just shows where I’m at the minute, how much and where I have to improve. I just have to let the defeat settle, get back to work … and try to get better basically.”
He did admit that the knee was still a worry. “It’s not like the worst position I’m at,” he explained. “In one way it’s frustrating because you can’t give a time scale. I’ve still got lots of years to play, so obviously I’m confident I’ll be playing at a good standard again. But you’re always itching, competitive, want things done immediately. You just have to have patience and give stuff time to get better. I’ve lost matches when I’m fully fit, so I have to work on lots of things to get back where I’m up there.”
Having reached the final in Auckland, Cameron Norrie came into the event on a high but he was well-beaten, 6-3 7-6 6-2 by Taylor Fritz, the American he beat in the third round of the ASB Classic.