By Ros Satar
Dmitry Tursunov [RUS] def Dan Evans [GBR] 6-4, 6-7(5),6-4, 5-7, 6-4
(April 5, 2013) COVENTRY, ENGLAND -It was a great gamble, that almost, but did not quite pay off.
Great Britain’s Davis Cup Captain Leon Smith replaced first choice, Jamie Baker, at pretty much the eleventh hour, in favor of Dan Evans.
Evans’ heroics in last year’s ties and perhaps more of a familiarity with faster courts that Baker, meant the pressure was on the shoulders of a player ranked 325 in the world.
Coming out, Evans seemed relaxed enough, but first blood went to Dmitry Tursunov, breaking Evans to love to lead 4-2.
Evans broke back, but it wasn’t enough to keep the first set from going to the Russian 6-4.
Evans seemed to want to go for crowd pleasing forehand winners, that soon became his undoing, and Tursunov was looking sharp at the net.
In the second set, Evans showed that he was made of sterner stuff, breaking the Russian to lead 4-3, but again consistency seemed to desert him, just when he needed it most.
Coming out to serve for the set, he saved one break point but a double-fault on another handed a reprieve to Tursunov.
Forcing the second set into a tiebreak, Evans kept his nose ahead just enough to level the match.
A lapse in concentration at the start of the third set, left Evans looking a little flat at times, again losing out by a single break margin.
A change of top and a change of fortunes in the fourth set as it was Tursunov’s time to look a little tired, as Evans broke to take the fourth set 7-5.
Was the faith Smith had showed in Evans about to pay off in another heroic win?
Sadly not, as Evans lost the opening game of the final set, and although the men traded a couple of breaks, it was not enough to keep Tursunov at bay.
In press, Evans had to face the inevitable questions about why he cannot translate his level of play to the events week in, week out?
He said: “I don’t train hard enough and I don’t work hard enough day in day out.”
He acknowledged that in the past, he had just been enjoying life.
“It’s not that I don’t want to do it, I obviously want to do it, but for whatever reasons, there are distractions.“
“Hopefully now, I’ve been working pretty hard since the start of the year.”
Tursunov acknowledged it had been a tough match.
“I was really very impressed with his returning.
“At times he definitely played made some shots I wasn’t expecting him to, and there were also a few shots that also a few opportunities I didn’t capitalize on.”
When asked about whether Evans could achieve that potential if he worked harder, the Russian acknowledged that sometimes Davis Cup brings out the best in people.
“I think the first step for him is to realize what he’s doing wrong.
“That also comes a little bit with experience.”
Time (or maybe Sunday) will tell whether Evans can build on this experience.
Ros Satar is a British Journalist- an IT journalist by day, and a sports journalist in all the gaps in between. She is the co-founder of Britwatch Sports (britwatchsports.com). Follow her on twitter at @rfsatar.