Evans tri­umphs over Ed­mund but in­jury scare for Mur­ray

Top seed clinches Bat­tle of the Brits title against Ed­mund Former Wim­ble­don win­ner swears on TV in coach­ing role

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Sport - By Simon Briggs

Rank­ings do not lie, judg­ing by Dan Evans’s vic­tory yes­ter­day in the Schroders Bat­tle of the Brits fi­nal. But this week will still be re­mem­bered for Andy Mur­ray’s lat­est re­turn to elite ten­nis.

The younger Mur­ray ducked out of yes­ter­day’s third-place play-off, cit­ing sore shins. And yet he was still on site at the Na­tional Ten­nis Cen­tre in a new role as James Ward’s coach for the day, of­fer­ing in­sight­ful tac­ti­cal ad­vice and nu­mer­ous dead­pan vari­a­tions on “Let’s go!”

“I am OK,” Mur­ray told Ama­zon Prime, when asked why he had cho­sen not to com­pete against Bri­tish No3 Cameron Nor­rie. “This week is far the most I have done in the last seven months. My left shin has been an is­sue, and it was a bit sore af­ter my first match. It was best not to risk it.”

“The re­sults weren’t the im­por­tant thing this week,” added Mur­ray, who will play his next match in Wash­ing­ton in mid-Au­gust af­ter he was pipped by Evans in Satur­day’s semi-fi­nal. “I wanted to get matches and hopefully play some good ten­nis. At times, I played really, really well and at times my level dropped quite a lot. If I can get back to the level I was play­ing at in the first set [on Satur­day] and main­tain that for longer pe­ri­ods, I will be just fine.”

Mur­ray could eas­ily have been in yes­ter­day’s fi­nal, in which case one sus­pects he might have played through the shin pain. On Satur­day, Evans had re­ceived a gi­ant slice of luck on match point, when a touch on the net-cord di­rected his way­ward backhand drive back into the court for a clean win­ner.

It was a dif­fer­ent story in the fi­nal. Evans had the match in his pocket from the start. Even though Kyle Ed­mund struck some huge fore­hands, as he had all week, Evans kept scur­ry­ing to and fro and dink­ing the ball back un­til he had earned a miss.

Evans agreed that he is prob­a­bly in the best phys­i­cal shape of his ca­reer, hav­ing hooked up with Tim Hen­man’s former fit­ness trainer Kieron Vorster early in the lock­down pe­riod. “I’m going to take a week off now, and then start to look for­ward to the restart [of the ATP Tour on Aug 14],” he said, af­ter his 6-3, 6-2 vic­tory. “When ten­nis re­sumes, it’s going to be pretty bru­tal.”

Sur­pris­ingly and un­usu­ally, there had been more ten­sion in the third­place play-off, as Ward – in­spired by Mur­ray in his cor­ner – pushed Nor­rie all the way de­spite a gap of al­most 200 places on the rank­ings ta­ble. In the end, Nor­rie pre­vailed by a 6-3, 7-5 mar­gin.

At one point, Mur­ray be­came highly ex­er­cised, telling Ward: “You need more en­ergy, be­cause it’s so quiet in here. And you’ve got f-----two weeks in Vir­ginia to sit on you’re a--- be­fore you play again [rep­re­sent­ing Orlando Storm in World Team Ten­nis].”

From that mo­ment on, we did not hear so much from him, per­haps be­cause the pro­duc­ers were con­cerned that he might turn the air blue again. When Evans was asked whether he saw coach­ing as a likely path for Mur­ray once his play­ing ca­reer fin­ishes, he quipped: “Not if he keeps swear­ing on live tele­vi­sion.”

Evans also sug­gested that this event, su­perbly or­gan­ised by Jamie Mur­ray and his team, could have a fu­ture as an an­nual fix­ture, played shortly af­ter the US Open in the early au­tumn to help pre­pare Bri­tish play­ers for the in­door sea­son.

There are no rank­ings points on of­fer, and the ma­jor­ity of the pro­ceeds were for­warded to the NHS. But Evans said: “It’s up to the Bri­tish ten­nis play­ers to give a bit back. Next year, play­ers might re­mem­ber what hap­pened this year. Jamie put on an event for us when we were all sit­ting around.”

Mak­ing a racket: Andy Mur­ray (above right) used foul lan­guage as James Ward’s coach; Dan Evans (left and be­low) beat Kyle Ed­mund (be­low, left)

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