Dan Evans, Britain’s top-ranked male tennis player, does not believe he’s the favourite for the Battle of the Brits nor does he think three-time Grand Slam champion Andy Murray deserves the tag.
Evans instead rates Kyle Edmund, the world No. 44 from Yorkshire, as the man to beat in the all-British event organised by Murray’s brother Jamie, which will provide a competitive environment this week ahead of the return of international tennis in August.
Although Evans, 30, is ranked 28 in the world – 16 places higher than the 25-year-old Yorkshireman – he has yet to inflict defeat on Edmund, losing twice to the younger Brit at Tour level and once in a Challenger final in Texas.
With Murray, dubbed the ‘One Hip Wonder’ by his compatriots, potentially rusty as he makes his first competitive appearance since December, Evans has given the nod to Edmund as the pre-tournament favourite.
Asked about his most recent meetings with his compatriots, Evans said: ‘It was probably Kyle, I had a tight one with Liam Broady at Nottingham one year but came through.
‘Apart from Kedders I’ve got a pretty good record against the Brits but he took me down a few times so he’s probably favourite for the event I guess.’
Tuesday 23 June: J. Murray/Skupski v Broady/Norrie, Edmund v Ward, Evans v Clarke, Murray v Broady, Draper/Edmund v Clarke/Inglot
Wednesday 24 June: Broady v Ward, O’Mara/Salisbury v Clarke/Inglot, Norrie v Draper, Edmund v Murray, Broady/Norrie v Evans/Glasspool
Thursday 25 June: Salisbury/O’Mara v Draper/Edmund, Evans v Norrie, Clarke v Draper, Murray v Ward, J. Murray/Skupski v Evans/Glasspool
Evans will face Jay Clarke in his first match at the National Tennis Centre in Roehampton on Tuesday, with Cam Norrie and Jack Draper the other players in the Greg Rusedski group.
Second seed Edmund will open against James Ward, with Murray and Liam Broady completing the Tim Henman group.
There has been plenty of banter flying around in a Whatsapp group set up ahead of the tournament – something Evans says his fellow Brits need to back up on the court.
‘We’re in a group, it’s going to be good, some people are more equipped after their talk than others,’ added Evans.
‘It’s alright for Andy to say stuff, but it’s gonna be interesting to see who backs it up. It’s nerve wracking playing the Brits, it’s not easy to play them.
‘So it’s going to be good, great to get a bit of practice for the main tour, set everybody in good stead to get going again.’
Tim Henman group
Greg Rusedski group
Ward views Evans, Edmund and Murray as the favourites and revealed the former world No. 1 was trying to take the pressure off himself by using his metal hip as an excuse.
‘Broady gives it the most to be honest. Broady likes to wind everyone up and a few people – like Andy – keeps going back at him, so that will be an interesting one on Tuesday as well,’ said Ward.
‘But yeah it’s funny, even with Andy trying to pile the pressure off of himself, saying that he’s got a metal hip, all that sort of stuff. Evo with his ranking, Kyle was playing great before the lockdown, and Andy for his experience – those three are the top favourites for sure.
‘For everyone else, whatever happens is a bit of a bonus. But yeah Evo and Andy have been trying to shovel the pressure off as much as possible.’
Ward, 33, will take on Murray on Thursday – the first time the pair have met in their careers.
‘He’s been a good mate of mine for a long time,’ he added. ‘Because of the whole metal hip stuff, he’ll say it doesn’t count even if I do win.
‘It’ll probably mean not too much to him but of course it would be great to have a win, we’ve never played each other.
‘As I say I am just looking forward to playing and any match against him will be good fun.’
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