27 June 2020 14:42
Let's face it, that is the main question that will be answered today at the National Tennis Centre as the Schroders Battle of the Brits enters the singles semi-final stage. The former world No.1 arrived at the Rumble in Roehampton (I'll admit it, that particular moniker hasn't caught on in the way I'd hoped…) having not played in seven months, unsure about where his game was at and writing off his chances of even getting out of the group. He was wrong to write off his chances, his game looks good, he is moving around the court with ease and without any apparent problems, and he can still dish up shots that leave both the viewer and opponent awestruck. This week he beat Liam Broady comfortably, won a physically gruelling match against James Ward and during his defeat to Kyle Edmund showed signs that he could get back to a very high level. This afternoon he is up against Dan Evans and will be only too aware he will have to go up another level if he is to beat the British No.1.
Andy Murray regards Dan Evans as the favourite to win their Battle of the Brits semi-final on Saturday. Evans, ranked 28th in the world, takes on Murray having made it three wins from three group games at the event in Roehampton with Friday's 6-2 3-6 10-4 victory over Ryan Peniston. Murray, who this week has beaten Liam Broady and James Ward either side of a loss to Kyle Edmund, entered the tournament having not previously played since November due to a bruised bone. Andy Murray had not played since November prior to this week (Mike Egerton/PA). Murray was quoted by a number of national newspapers as saying of 30-year-old Evans: "I would imagine he would go into the match as the favourite right now.
Evans and Glasspool beat Edmund and James Ward in the semis on Friday, while Murray and Skupski got past Joe Salisbury and Jonny O'Mara. Top-ranked British tennis player Dan Evans claims every player is giving its absolute best at the Battle of the Brits and nobody is treating it like an exhibition event. "To be honest with you, that's the first time I've heard it called an exhibition," Evans said after beating Norrie, as revealed on Metro UK. Yeah, you're trying to raise money for the NHS but everyone is trying to win." On Saturday, Evans will face three-time Grand Slam champion Andy Murray. Evans, 30, admits he won't be treating it as a regular meeting as playing Murray and beating the former world No. It's a difficult match but I'll have to deal with that;" Evans said.
Dan Evans and Murray have no previous meetings. The semifinal line-up is set for the Battle of the Brits at the National Tennis Centre in Roehampton, with, perhaps unsurprisingly, all of the top four seeds having made it out of the round-robin stage. Kyle Edmund vs Cameron Norrie In their only previous encounter, which came last season on the grass in Eastbourne, Kyle Edmund gave Cameron Norrie a bit of a lesson, losing only four games. Edmund has been imperious so far this week, beating Andy Murray in a three-set thriller, before dispatching James Ward and Liam Broady with ease, and he appears to have used the break to his advantage. Norrie endured a more difficult start to his campaign at the Battle of the Brits, struggling past Ryan Peniston before losing in straight-sets to Dan Evans. That left him needing to beat Paul Jubb in his final round-robin match to stand a chance of progressing. But he will still likely be up against it when he steps on to court to take on Edmund. Norrie, though a good mover and solid baseliner, does not have the weaponry to match Edmund blow for blow. Edmund proved as much last year in Eastbourne and he has been playing well enough so far in Roehampton to suggest that Norrie could be in for another tough day. Dan Evans vs Andy Murray For example, whilst Murray has played 876 matches on the main tour, and Edmund 226, Evans has played only 138 ATP matches. But Evans has looked determined to make up for lost time of late and his performances at the Battle of the Brits have been inspired. It looks like he has used the enforced break due to the coronavirus pandemic to improve his fitness and spend as much time as possible on the practice court, and it has paid off handsomely so far in Roehampton. He was beaten by Edmund, but that was a match in which he had his chances. Physically he has looked solid and his movement has improved match by match, although it is still a concern that he has spoken of being able to feel his hip. That said, it is hard not to view Evans as the favourite heading into this match. He is playing some of the finest tennis of his career, arguably even better than his ranking of world #28. That is not a level Murray has looked likely to reach as yet at the Battle of the Brits. Evans can test Murray's movement, particularly with his sliced backhand, and will likely get more returns in play than Murray's previous opponents. Murray will face Evans, the British No 1, for the first time in today's semi-final encounter Some will have laughed at the pre-tournament claim of Andy Murray, a three-times grand-slam champion, that he was the "sixth favourite" for the Schroders Battle of the Brits. But his belief that Dan Evans is the man most likely to win their semi-final encounter today should be taken more seriously. Considering his hip troubles and the lack of any competition for seven months, Murray, 33, has done exceedingly well to remain in the event after playing three days of consecutive matches. "It is not easy coming back after not playing any matches for seven months" Murray said.