Tennis-Evans helping Britain shake off Wimbledon 'plucky losers' tag

·2-min read

By Martyn Herman

LONDON (Reuters) - Andy Murray remains something of an anomaly for British tennis with his two Wimbledon titles papering over what is often a bleak fortnight on the grass for home hopes.

Johanna Konta also reached the semi-finals in 2017, the year after the second of Murray's two titles, but other than that it has been rare for Brits to survive until the second week, especially since Murray's injury woes.

The 34-year-old Scot returned to singles action at Wimbledon for the first time in four years on Monday, claiming a dramatic win over Georgian Nikoloz Basilashvili to prove the former world number one is not yet a spent force.

But Dan Evans is Britain's top dog these days, in terms of rankings, and the 22nd seed justified that title on Tuesday as he beat veteran Spaniard Feliciano Lopez 7-6(4) 6-2 7-5.

The no-nonsense Evans said it was about time the "plucky loser" line wheeled out to describe British failures at Wimbledon was retired for good.

"It's a tough way to put it, but we enjoy putting up a valiant effort, not celebrating it, but we put it right out there," Evans told reporters. "You guys as well like to deliver the losses pretty front page sort of stuff.

"I just think British mentality is that at the minute. I don't think we should be celebrating losses. I mean, yesterday was a great experience for Jack Draper (against Novak Djokovic), but probably he doesn't want to lose that match."

Evans' impressive victory made it three British players in the second round of the men's singles, along with Murray and Liam Broady, who reached that stage for the first time since his debut six years ago.

There were several British casualties in the women's draw, however, the most high-profile being Heather Watson who lost a late-evening cliffhanger against Kristie Ahn on Monday. Wildcard Harriet Dart was thrashed by Elise Mertens on Tuesday.

But Evans said it was wrong to focus on the British players who end up on the Wimbledon scrapheap.

"I just think there's some pretty good wins out there, but I'm not sure they get celebrated all the time is my opinion," Evans said. "I'm not sure if there was too much about Liam Broady winning. There was a lot about Heather's heartache."

Evans has never been beyond the third round at Wimbledon but the 31-year-old looked sharp against left-hander Lopez and with either Dusan Lajovic or Gilles Simon up next this could be the year he can make a big impact.

(Reporting by Martyn Herman, editing by Ed Osmond)

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