Dan Evans wants British tennis to stop celebrating valiant defeats at Wimbledon

Dan Evans snapped a four-match grand slam losing streak with victory over Feliciano Lopez at Wimbledon – and then told British tennis to stop celebrating valiant defeats.

Highlighting the reaction to Jack Draper’s performance against Novak Djokovic on Monday, with the 19-year-old winning a set before losing in four, Evans called for higher expectations.

“I don’t think we should be celebrating losses,” he said. “Yesterday was a great experience for Jack Draper, but probably he doesn’t want to lose that match. I’m sure he comes here thinking he can win a lot of matches.

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“We enjoy putting up a valiant effort. I just think British mentality is that at the minute. It can change.”

Evans looked delighted at the end of his 7-6 (4) 6-2 7-5 victory over veteran Lopez, leaping and punching the air after the Spaniard’s final volley drifted long.

The British number one has had an excellent 18 months on the ATP Tour but the slams have been a different matter, with Evans losing twice in the first round of the French Open and once at the Australian Open since his previous victory in New York last summer.

He said: “It was a good way to come through. It was pretty efficient. I feel I played solid tennis and was more controlled than previous matches over the grass. I had to be ready from the get-go and really focused and be sharp. I felt I was.

Jack Draper (left) pushed Novak Djokovic in a first-round match on Monday
Jack Draper (left) pushed Novak Djokovic in a first-round match on Monday (John Walton/PA)

“It’s always going to be a difficult match against Feli. I thought there’d probably be a tie-break or two in there. I was ready to be good in those moments. I did a good job and I’m happy to come through.

“It’s tougher to come through these events. Whichever way you look at it, they’re bigger events, they’re better events. This is where you want to win matches.”

This was a throwback match between two of the best current exponents of grass-court tennis, full of slice backhands and angled volleys.

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There was almost nothing to choose between the pair in the first set but it was Evans who stepped up in the tie-break, drilling two topspin backhands to move 4-1 ahead and then winning the final three points after Lopez fought back.

The pressure from Evans told on Lopez, who turns 40 in September and has played in every grand slam tournament since the French Open in 2002, in the second set, the Spaniard making a succession of unforced errors and losing five games in a row.

He was sharper on serve again in the third, and Evans had to dig deep to save two break points at 3-3, but Lopez could not force another tie-break.

Asked if he could see himself still playing at the same age as Lopez, Evans said: “Unless I fell out of love with it, I would give it a go. But I’ll be hanging on as long as possible out here. It’s a pretty good job to have.”

Dan Evans plays a backhand volley during his victory over Feliciano Lopez
Dan Evans plays a backhand volley during his victory over Feliciano Lopez (Steven Paston/PA)

The 31-year-old revealed, meanwhile, he has been trying to avoid communal areas at the player hotel after fellow British number one Johanna Konta was forced out of the tournament following a positive Covid-19 test for a member of her team on Friday.

“I’ve not eaten downstairs in the communal area yet on the bottom floor,” said Evans. “I’ve eaten in the lobby restaurant twice, just tried to stay in my room really.

“It was obviously unfortunate. It’s just a terrible situation for her. Hopefully she’s back for the Olympics and has enough time to prepare.”