Dan Evans has warned that Emma Raducanu’s US Open victory papered over the cracks in British tennis.
And the British No2 also warned that some good showings by British players on grass last summer also made things seem better within the sport in the UK than is the reality.
Evans is one of just three men in the singles draw for the French Open, which gets under way on Sunday, along with Cameron Norrie and Jack Draper. But Andy Murray has opted against playing to focus on the grasscourt season, Emma Raducanu is injured and no other British woman has qualified.
Asked if Raducanu’s 2021 Grand Slam success had papered over the cracks, Evans said: “Yes. They’ve been lucky that they have a Grand Slam champion and she’s a very good tennis player but the rankings don’t lie, do they?
“I think the grass last year really helped paper over some cracks as well. There were some good results but, if you look at the players who did pretty well on the grass last year, who were wildcards etc., rankings don’t lie. After the grass [this year], there will be a bit of soul searching I imagine.”
Evans has been critical of tennis governing body the LTA in the past and he poured scorn on former LTA performance director Simon Timson, who is now in a similar role for recently crowned Premier League champions Manchester City.
Recalling a meeting with Timson on his return from a drugs ban for cocaine, Evans said: “Simon Timson sat next to me and told me… ‘you are close to finishing your career’. And I said, ‘thanks man’, that was the meeting. And I seem to have done all right since that meeting. He sent me to a psychologist, that was about it.”
Evans put his own climb back up the rankings from his tennis hiatus down to hard work and said that was the most crucial ingredient to getting more British players in the world’s elite.
“I know what it’s like to not work hard and what you get from that,” he said. “And I know what it’s like to work hard and get decent rewards.
“I’m not sitting here saying I know the answers. I have a fair idea of the answers. There’s enough people playing junior tennis. We just don’t help them in my opinion. What I think we need to do it get a bigger pool and just pool it all in and get going. It’s simple maths. Spread the resources more thinly and bring in more people.”