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The Telegraph

Foul-mouthed Dan Evans takes aim at umpire and fans in first-round French Open defeat

A bad-tempered Dan Evans maintained his unhappy record at the French Open as he departed in four sets to world No48 Miomir Kecmanovic, swearing and tossing rackets as he went. Broadcasters were forced to apologise for Evans’s language as he struggled for traction on Paris’s red clay. He railed against chair umpire Jimmy Pinoargote, complained about unruly fans, and lambasted himself for leaving too many balls in inviting positions. The defeat was all the more disappointing because Evans – the world No27 – had made such an excellent start, moving to 5-0 in the first set before Kecmanovic was able to establish himself on the scoreboard. At that stage, it seemed reasonable to imagine that he might claim his first victory at Roland Garros, after four previous failed attempts. But Kecmanovic, a Serbian 21-year-old, is a former world junior No1. He found an ever-improving rhythm with his groundstokes, which carried more weight throughout than Evans’s, while also dealing well with the touch-based exchanges at the front of the court. In the end, Kecmanovic came through by a 1-6, 6-3, 6-3, 6-4 scoreline in 3hr 4mins, and Evans will have to refocus on the grass-court season. It was a deflating end to a clay-court swing that had started so promisingly when he beat world No1 Novak Djokovic in Monte Carlo and reached the semi-finals there to boot. But Evans appears to be at his most vulnerable at the slams, where he has not reached the third round in his last five attempts. Perhaps the nature of his game – which usually involves disrupting more powerful opponents with surprise net-rushes and dainty drop shots – is less effective over the long haul of a best-of-five-set match, as the tricks come to be more predictable every time he uses them. Or perhaps there is a mental block developing here. It is true that Evans has not had a gimme of a draw for a while – not since he faced world No150 Tatsumo Ito at the start of 2019. But then neither have the opponents who have overcome him in slams of late – Kecmanovic here, fellow Brit Cameron Norrie in Melbourne and France’s Corentin Moutet in New York last year – been huge names. Afterwards, Evans did not try to find excuses for his loss. Asked why he remains winless in five attempts at Roland Garros, he replied “What probably hurts a bit more is that I prepared as good as I did. I’ve got a great coach and fitness trainer and I worked hard, I’ve tried my best to come out and win the match, and I just didn’t do it. “That’s the hardest part,” Evans added. “To go back and look yourself in the mirror and [say] not good enough, you know. It’s a difficult thing to, there is no kind of sugarcoating it. It wasn’t good enough and he was better. It’s not that it doesn’t work for me here. They [his opponents] have just been better than me, and that’s the facts.” Even more alarmingly, this result means that it is still two years since a Briton won a match at Roland Garros, after the embarrassing tally of six first-round losses recorded in Paris in the autumn. Tennis tragics may remember that, after that sad series of reverses, Heather Watson salted the wound by warning that “I don’t really see who’s next … What younger players? I don’t have anyone to talk about.”