Briton Evans draws inspiration from brush with greatness
By John Stonestreet
LONDON (Reuters) - For the second time in three days a Briton was the meat in the Wimbledon sandwich for Roger Federer, as Dan Evans followed Marcus Willis in being swallowed up by the greatest grasscourt player in history.
The 26-year-old from the West Midlands joked before Friday's third-round defeat that he would take no pointers from his swashbuckling compatriot on how to tackle the Swiss -- the 772nd-ranked Willis having failed to win a set in his second-round clash with the seven-times Wimbledon champion.
In the event, Evans was dismissed in straight sets too, though in losing 6-4 6-2 6-2 he went toe-to-toe with the Swiss for much of the first and kept him on court for one game and one minute longer than Willis had managed.
Both Britons have been labelled under-achievers, but this year they have exceeded all expectations at their home grand slam.
Like them, British men's tennis appears on the up and Evans, his resume newly minted with his best ever showing at Wimbledon, believes the domestic game can only benefit from such high-profile matches.
"It's such a good thing for tennis in Britain. Hopefully, there are juniors out there thinking that could be me," he told reporters.
When the new ranking list is published the day after the tournament ends, Evans is projected to reach a career high of 72, up from 91 currently and 183 at the end of last year.
That means the country will, for the first time since the sport turned professional in 1968, have four men inside the world's top 75, bookended by perennial standard-bearer Andy Murray at the top end and Evans at the bottom.
Having risen high enough to gain direct access to the main draw in grand slams and some other tour events, Evans says his next aim is to "to kick on again".
He will start that process by making the case to be included in the Britain team that will continue their defence of the Davis Cup in mid-July in Serbia.
While competition will be tough for the second singles slot in Belgrade alongside Murray, it is not out of the question that Evans could find himself going head-to-head with world number one Novak Djokovic in two weeks time.
Further on, other occasions such as Friday's beckon, with the challenge then to alter the outcome.
"Obviously, everyone dreams about playing Federer on Centre Court," Evans said.
"It's an inspiration for me that I got a chance to play him. I want that again, to play other good players on those courts."
(Editing by Ed Osmond)