29 May 2024

French Open was tough for British players but big picture not bleak – Dan Evans

29 May 2024

Dan Evans admitted this year’s French Open was “tough” for Britain’s players but insisted the bigger picture was not as bleak as it looked on clay.

All six British singles players lost in the first round, the first time since 2020 that none made it to the middle of the opening week.

Evans had arguably the trickiest draw as he lost in straight sets to Danish 13th seed Holger Rune.

Andy Murray, only recently back from an ankle injury, was beaten by fellow gland-slam champion Stan Wawrinka and Katie Boulter was edged out by former world number two Paula Badosa.

Harriet Dart lost a tight match to Czech teenager Linda Noskova, while the biggest disappointments were Cameron Norrie, who went down in five to 56th-ranked Pavel Kotov, and Jack Draper, beaten by qualifier Jesper De Jong.

But it should be remembered that the last time Britain had more players in the singles draw at Roland Garros by ranking – there were seven but Jodie Burrage pulled out injured – was in 1985.

“It’s just been a bit of a tough tournament. I think we’re actually in the best spot we’ve been in on clay for a long time,” said Evans.

“I think Draper will win a lot of matches here and everywhere. I just think it’s not been a great tournament, it’s just how it’s panned out.

“You go round the Tour and it’s difficult. Sometimes you can have four in the third round and we’d all be jumping from the treetops.

“All of the matches are 50/50 – well, mine wasn’t – but you can go both ways. Boulter playing Badosa, anyone think she’d win before the match? It’s a tough match.

“Norrie maybe, but Kotov plays good on the clay. Draper, OK he had a bad day. Andy and Stan is 50-50. It’s tough. But I remember last year we were saying how good we all were at Wimbledon.

“If we got four in the fourth round at Wimbledon, we’d say British tennis is flying. But we play on grass for three weeks.”

Boulter’s defeat was probably the most agonising of the lot as she led Badosa by a set and a break and wasted three break points for 6-5 in the second.

“I can’t speak for the others,” she said. “I’ve worked so hard to be in this position and I lost out in the finest of margins. Ultimately I’ve done the best I can. I’ll keep doing the best I can.

“I would like to spend more time on it because I think a lot of players can play well on it.”

British number three Burrage, who withdrew Roland Garros due to an ankle injury, is understood to be undergoing tests and hopes to be fit for Wimbledon.

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