November 23, 2019
You have to hand it to the passionate Dan Evans. Sometimes sheer persistence and determination can get you over the line.
He earned every second of his wild celebrations after silencing Boris Becker and Germany in Madrid.
To their credit, the Germans took their Davis Cup quarter-final defeat sportingly.
Now Evans may well be the man tasked with trying to beat the great Rafael Nadal in GB’s semi-final against hosts Spain today.
‘If I play, I will walk onto the court believing I can win – otherwise there is no point,’ an excited Evans insisted. ‘But hopefully, we will already be 1-0 up so the pressure will be more on him.’
We don’t have long to wait before the British strategy is revealed. The tie takes place later this afternoon.
Brits in the Spanish capital are being offered free tickets if they can make it to the venue to lend their support.
Andy Murray could yet play. But it seems more likely that Evans and Kyle Edmund will be rewarded for Friday’s winning displays.
Edmund was superb against the excellent Philipp Kohlschreiber and won in straight sets
In doing so he left the tennis world wondering how he has suddenly found such a big improvement in form.
Heavy missiles with wounding trajectories regularly flew off Edmund’s rocket-launcher of a racquet.
Kohlschreiber, who has beaten some of the biggest names in tennis, had no answer when it mattered.
The team environment seems to suit Edmund. In fact, there isn’t a single member of this happy GB group who hasn’t notched a victory in Madrid at some stage during this glory bid.
Evans had to wait longer than the rest. But that just made his win even sweeter.
He threw his racquet high in the air and ran so hard towards team captain Leon Smith that the Scot was in danger of being knocked over.
Evans was delighted to have repaid the faith shown in him. Andy Murray would have been the easier selection choice.
But Andy still didn’t feel fighting fit after putting on a few pounds during his time with his new son Teddy.
So “Evo” and GB hoped it would be third-time-lucky for the underdog.
Two defeats in two days had taken their toll on the feisty character from Solihull. Especially since he had been a set ahead in both his singles matches, only to crumble.
‘I felt like I’d let the team down in the last few days,’ he admitted. ‘I didn’t feel good.’
He does now.
And yet few would have made Evans favourite against the huge German, Jan-Lennard Struff. Not even when Dan took the first tie-break 8-6.
Indeed there were times in the second set when Struff looked as though he had gained complete control of the match.
Cheered on loudly by Becker in his Germany tracksuit, the younger and more powerful man hardly put a foot wrong as he stormed back to take that second set 6-3.
Most believed Struff would finish the job and the tie would be decided by the doubles. That had been GB’s pattern against the Netherlands and Kazakhstan after “Evo” slipped up.
But Dan The Man was out to prove a point. The idea of losing a third match for his country was too much to bear.
So he summoned all his fighting spirit and found a foothold in the final set.
More than that, Evans forced another tie-break. He seems to love them. And they love him.
Struff appeared unnerved by Dan’s hungry intensity. Evans took early command and never really looked back.
When a desperate effort from the talented German drifted wide, the Englishman went wild with joy.
Nadal might bring him back down to earth in a few hours.
Rafa was involved in winning both the rubbers that saw Spain come back from one down to defeat Argentina in the early hours.
How can the less-than-powerful Dan Evans be expected to tame the might of Rafael Nadal, the ultimate tennis warrior, in front of his own adoring fans?
Except that this is the Davis Cup. Where anything can happen.
May the best team win. And let’s not forget, GB have already done brilliantly to get this far without relying much on Andy Murray.
All these British heroes should be in action at their home Slam this coming summer. Let’s give them a warm reception at Wimbledon 2020.