Dan Evansentered the clay court season as the British No. 2 after some determined play and a much needed change in his attitude to training and competition. However, the clay is not his friend, but he has admitted he needs to find that ‘click’.
It looked like it had all come together in Barcelona. With his first tour level wins (and not really counting the exhibition like effort in the dead rubber against France in the Davis Cup quarter-final), Evans came through a tough first round at the ATP 500 event, and finally bowed out against the No. 4 seed Dominic Thiem.
However, clay is a better surface for his compatriots Kyle Edmund and Aljaz Bedene, and a decent run for the latter in Budapest has seen Evans slip to fourth in the British rankings.
He faces a pretty tough task in Robin Haase. The Dutchman may not have even made it out of qualifying last year, but is no slouch on the clay with a lot of his deep runs last year coming at the Challenger level, as he made his way from just inside the Top 200 at the start of last year to inside the Top 50 now.
The Dutchman has a pretty hefty serve which he will look to gain some cheap points, but can be vulnerable on the backhand side although he can attack and defend with both pretty capably. He can hot the ball flat and has a decent line in hitting on the run, as well as playing the ball on the rise and coming into the net.
Evans also has an aggressive game, and flair, but for him the movement on the clay is still an issue. He has not been willing or able to really make the small adjustments to his game this season, as he still learns how to cope with the surface, but he ought to have some confidence in his runs so far.
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