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Evans finally fulfilling potential with SW19 heroics


Special moment: An emotional Dan Evans after victory
Special moment: An emotional Dan Evans after victory

By Eleanor Crooks

Dan Evans was not the only member of his team getting emotional after his second-round victory over Nikoloz Basilashvili at Wimbledon on Thursday.

The British No.3 is not known for shedding tears on court but he struggled to hold them back as he celebrated a straight-sets win that became a little complicated at the end.

Evans' prize is a third-round clash with unseeded Portuguese Joao Sousa, who upset Marin Cilic, and the carrot of a possible meeting with Rafael Nadal to follow.

It is all a far cry from 12 months ago, when Evans was persuaded by his coach David Felgate to train through the pain after missing out in qualifying.

And an even bigger difference to two years ago, when Evans did not know what the future held after being forced to announce just before Wimbledon that he had failed a drugs test for cocaine.

Now he is on the verge of breaking back into the top-50 of the world rankings and will play in the last-32 at the All England Club for only the second time.

Felgate said of Evans' tears: "I totally got it. I felt that way myself walking back to the locker room because you know where he's been and I know what he put in trying to come back last year."

What has been most striking about Evans since his return is the professionalism of his approach and just how much he wants to win matches and maximise his potential.

It was not always like that, and Felgate, who coached Tim Henman for much of his career, said: "Everybody's journey is different and everybody's maturity is different.

"Everybody keeps their main character and he will always be Dan. You don't want to take certain elements of that away but it's about tempering it and trying to advise him. He's fun to be around, he's a pleasure to work with.

"You look at the longevity of so many players now. Somebody said making up for lost time, I don't believe in that. Every point along the way has a purpose.

"This is his time now. Work hard."

It took the 29-year-old less than a year after returning last April without a ranking to get back into the top-100.

In Melbourne, Evans qualified for the Australian Open and acquitted himself well in a second-round loss to the great Roger Federer.

So well that Federer subsequently invited him to a short training camp in Switzerland and the pair have been practice partners at Wimbledon this week.

Evans then went on to make his second ATP Tour final in Florida as a qualifier and began his grass-court campaign with two titles at Challenger level.

No-one has won more matches on grass this season than the Brummie, who is ranked eight places higher than Sousa.

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