September 16, 2013
Amazing scenes in Croatia as the local crowd noisily interrupted Andy Murray for two minutes before he served on match point against their hero Ivan Dodig. They even tried to put him off by yelling and screaming just as he was about to hit the ball during the final, tie-clinching rally.
A controversial line call – defended by Murray and disputed by the desperate Dodig – had caused uproar in Umag. The near-riot made no difference to the result of course. Murray won in straight sets to secure Great Britain’s return to the elite World Group of the Davis Cup. Dan Evans then put the final gloss on a magnificent 4-1 team victory by defeating Pave Matic.
You never know what you’re going to get from Evans. He had been out-muscled by Dodig in his opening match, but it was typical of the 23-year-old to bounce back in style. What an experience it was for Evans to emerge triumphant from the hostility of Croatia, just days after that stunning run in the US Open announced his arrival in the big time. It will only add to his mental strength and further his tennis education. By next summer, Britain will have a new hero – or should that be anti-hero – to go with Wimbledon champion Murray. I met him for an interview just before he left for Umag and he took me on a tour of his tattoos. Evans has “Shhh…” written into his right index finger, a picture of Jesus on one side of his left arm, an Oscar Wilde quote on the other: “Every saint has a past, every sinner has a future.”
Is he religious? ‘Not particularly,’ he told me, ‘but my auntie Julie is…’ I wasn’t quite sure how to follow that.
Evans doesn’t care too much what people think of him. He finds his latest taste of fame ‘a little bit embarrassing’. That’s what makes him so endearing. He’s just an ordinary bloke who, by his own admission, sometimes used to drink a bit too much. Now he is giving tennis a serious chance – but that won’t diminish his sense of fun. Who could be seen behind Murray during his TV interview from Umag, assessing that controversial line call for himself, examining the mark in the Croatian clay which had caused such upset in the patriotic crowd? That’s right, Evans. He pointed at it, smiling.
Meanwhile Murray indulged in a spot of playful bottom-pinching when (male) television presenters were doing pieces to camera.
Popular characters, great tennis players. Murray the hero, Evans the anti-hero – they make for great box office. And we can’t wait to see them do their thing at Wimbledon next summer.