After what was a disappointing loss to France in the Davis Cup quarter-final, we are left looking at the different fortunes of the two Brits on court in Rouen. Kyle Edmund’s match with Lucas Pouille had been close on many levels, with the Frenchman just playing the big points better. There had not been much in it, and it showed just how accomplished Edmund could be on the surface.
Meanwhile Dan Evanshas made a successful fist of avoiding the dirt for much of his career, but at this stage he knows that he has to at least find a way on the clay if he wants to keep progressing up the ranks. Just a quick peak at our countdown to the Roland Garros shows there are weeks of the stuff coming up.
Evans admitted that almost everything needs to be relearned on the surface and for both of them, despite the disappointment of ‘dead-rubbers-day’ on the Sunday in Rouen, it gave them both the chance to play in match conditions – well ok to be fair perhaps only Edmund did against Jeremey Chardy, as Evans’ match win over Julien Benneteau (along with Nicolas Mahut and captain Yannick Noah) was more of a light-hearted knockabout.
Back on the tour though, the pair first met at the lower Challenger level while Edmund was more in the ascendency, beating Evans in the Dallas Challenger final. Since then though Evans has been a little more upwardly mobile, and now Edmund needs to take advantage of Evans more tentative steps on the dirt.
Edmund’s big serve and thumping forehand have served him well on the clay, but he is unlikely to better his best performances thus far (two quarter-finals – Brisbane and Delray Beach), as he will face Rafael Nadal in the second round. Evans found that the flair he can usually find on a hard court just did not have the depth and punch he needed to win the points on clay. It will be a tough learning curve, and he may have to wait until the surer grass to catch up to the No. 2 spot again.
For Evans it is another chance to try things out and ty to get the hang of the adjustments he needs to make on the surface. The movement, the weight of shot, all of it needs work, and the most the current British No. 2 can hope for is just more match time to help him figure it out. It would need to be a monumental off-day for Edmund to lose.
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