French Open 2023 – Emma Raducanu ‘closing the gap’ in British tennis – Dan Evans

French Open 2023 - Emma Raducanu 'closing the gap' in British tennis - Dan Evans, sport, Tennis

Dan Evans, the British men’s number two tennis player, has expressed his belief that Emma Raducanu’s victory at the US Open has merely concealed the underlying problems within British tennis. Evans, who is seeded 24th, is one of the only three British players participating in the singles main draw of the French Open, along with Cameron Norrie and Jack Draper. Due to Raducanu’s injury, there are no British representatives in the women’s singles category.

Evans criticized the lack of support provided to young tennis players, stating, “There’s enough people playing junior tennis. We just don’t help them in my opinion. It’s a scarce draw, isn’t it?” He has been a vocal critic of the development pathway in British tennis for some time and considers the emergence of Raducanu as a major champion in 2021 to be a stroke of luck for the nation.

When asked if Raducanu’s surprising win in New York masked the underlying issues in British tennis, Evans responded rhetorically, saying, “Is that a rhetorical question? Yes.” While acknowledging Raducanu’s skill, he emphasized that the rankings reflect the true state of affairs.

Evans further emphasized that the challenges in British tennis extend beyond the top-ranked players, stressing the importance of nurturing talent from the grassroots level. Although Britain has four male players ranked in the top 60 in the world, Andy Murray chose not to participate in the French Open, focusing instead on the grass-court season.

Raducanu, who recently dropped to 106th in the world rankings due to her absence from competition, is also absent from the clay-court Grand Slam due to injuries. None of the British women are currently ranked in the top 100.

During the French Open qualifying matches, seven women and three men from Britain were unsuccessful in their attempts to secure a spot in the main draw.

Evans highlighted the disparity between Argentina, which had 13 men in the qualifying rounds, and the resources available to British tennis players. He urged for a greater focus on increasing the popularity of the sport and involving more people, advocating for a larger pool of talent to choose from.

In response to Evans’ criticisms, the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) acknowledged the disappointing results in the French Open qualifiers but affirmed that they are making progress in the long term. The governing body stated that they are investing in junior players, hosting more international competitions, and supporting players’ development through various pathways.

Evans, who has turned his life around after serving a drugs ban, advised others to dedicate themselves wholeheartedly to the sport. Having achieved his career-high ranking of 22nd at the age of 31 and secured his first ATP title in 2021, he emphasized the importance of hard work and the potential rewards it brings.

While not claiming to possess all the answers, Evans emphasized the significance of playing a sufficient number of tournaments to give oneself ample opportunities to excel and overcome occasional setbacks.

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