Emma Raducanu’s victory at the US Open papered over the cracks in British tennis, says Dan Evans… with the 33-year-old one of only three Brits in the French Open draw this week
- Lawn Tennis Association received nearly £50m from Wimbledon last year
- But the governing body cannot boast a single woman ranked in the top 100
- Brits Dan Evans, Jack Draper and Cam Norrie will contest the men’s singles
Isolated successes such as that of Emma Raducanu have camouflaged the true state of how Britain is faring in elite tennis.
Dan Evans will be one of just three GB players in the French Open draw when the tournament kicks off on Sunday, and in typically straightforward fashion he pointed to that as a realistic measure of where the British game is at.
In the same week as the Lawn Tennis Association reported another massive injection of funds from Wimbledon – close to £50million – all ten of the attempted qualifiers were heading back across the Channel by the end of the second preliminary round.
That leaves only Evans, Jack Draper and Cam Norrie to contest the singles, with Norrie showing worrying signs of wear and tear as he lost in Friday’s semi-finals of the ATP event in Lyon.
Now a veteran having just turned 33, Evans is one of the few in the British game prepared to speak plainly without fear of offending the governing body, who at present cannot boast a single woman ranked in the top 100.
Dan Evans (above) will be one of just three GB players in the French Open draw
‘They’ve been lucky that they (the LTA) had a Grand Slam champion and she’s a very good tennis player but the rankings don’t lie, do they?’, figured Evans, who faces Australian Thanasi Kokkinakis on Sunday.
‘Men’s, not many of us (three) playing qualifiers, not many main draw. I don’t want to sound like a broken record. But there’s way further to go than just the top players. It’s from the bottom up.’
He also feels that the decent spread of performances in the UK last summer created a false impression of what happens year-round.
‘I think the grass last year really helped paper over some cracks as well. There were some good results, but if you look at the players who did pretty good on the grass last year, who were wildcards, the rankings don’t lie. There will be a bit of soul-searching I imagine, after their holidays and after the grass.’
Only recently he suggested that British players were not out on tour enough. That could apply to some of the cluster of women not far outside the top 100, who at times appear over-preoccupied with their social media feeds.
‘I know what it’s like to not work hard and what you get from that, and I know what it’s like to work hard and get decent rewards,’ said Evans. ‘Argentina had twelve men in the qualies here (it was actually 13). They have no money, they have nothing. Not a federation basically. There’s enough people playing junior tennis (in the UK).
‘We just don’t help them in my opinion. If you’re putting five people on PSP (LTA funding programmes), what’s the hope for the others? It’s just heart-breaking that a guy next door to you is getting 70 grand or something, but you’re better than him. But there’s a guy with these stats is telling you ‘No, no, he’s better’.
Evans was particularly scathing about former Performance Director Simon Timson, who he felt wrote him off when he returned from his cocaine ban.
Emma Raducanu has dropped out of the world’s top 100 since winning the US Open in 2021
Timson moved on to a job at Manchester City after three and a half years and was replaced by another with no prior tennis experience, Michael Bourne.
The British No 2 is somewhat fed up with the situation and added, clearly inaccurately, ‘I couldn’t give a s*** about it.’
Norrie, the defending champion in Lyon, looked like he was moving awkwardly at times as he went down 6-3 6-0 to Francisco Cerundolo.
He is due to meet turbulent Frenchman Benoit Paire in the first round, while Draper is scheduled to meet one of the tougher Argentinians, Tomas Martin Etcheverry.
Twice women’s champion Iga Swiatek declared herself fit after an injury scare in Rome.