Dan Evans clearly doesn’t want to dwell on his much-discussed past.

The British number three knows he “lost time” and is well aware he has no one else to blame for serving a 12-month ban from April last year for testing positive for cocaine.

Why waste energy on what’s gone when the present makes much more pleasing reading for the 29-year-old?

Since returning to the tour, Evans has spent 14 months steadily climbing the world rankings and is just a strong summer away from getting back into the top 50.

Victory in the Surbiton Trophy earlier this month shows his game is in very good health at the start of the grass-court season.

“It really couldn’t have gone any better,” Evans told BBC Sport on Wednesday as he awaited his first outing at this year’s rain-soaked Nature Valley Open in Nottingham.

“It was great to get a lot of tennis under my belt. I played five matches and got better and better with each round, and I am really happy with my form.

“The grass courts suit me and my game. I like to get into the net. I enjoy playing on grass, and winning in Surbiton was a great start.”

The stats back that up. Last year saw Evans reach the semis in Surbiton – his first tournament after his suspension – before shining in Nottingham, where he made it all the way to the final.

His run ended with defeat in a tight match against Australian teenager Alex de Minaur.

But his form has remained impressive and Birmingham-born Evans is back up to 70 in the world following his success in South West London, not far from the more prestigious surroundings of Wimbledon.

Dan Evans

It still feels like Evans has much more to give. And while he “doesn’t want to put numbers” on a ranking target, he wants to “get higher than I was” – namely the 41st place he attained in March 2017.

Things looked to be pretty rosy around that time, but even before his drugs ban, Evans had spent much of his career fending off accusations of wasting his talent and not putting in the required amount of work to really break into the sport’s elite.

He has twice been stripped of his Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) funding and had numerous run-ins with former coaches over his off-court attitude and a lack of discipline.

But he sees any past troubles as just that – past troubles.

He did not have a world ranking in April 2018, but was 189th in January 2019 and 70th after winning in Surbiton.

“I don’t think about what has happened now,” he said, with more than a tinge of irritation. “It has gone. It’s behind me.

“I have worked hard to get back where I am in the top 100 and am playing well. I don’t think about where I could get to at Wimbledon, but if I make it to the fourth round then who knows.”


Russell Fuller, BBC tennis correspondent

I’ve felt for several months now that Dan Evans was going to be a very dangerous man to face on the grass this summer.

He’s worked very hard for the past 12 months, and his ranking is nearly where it was before the ban.

If you look at his results for 2019 alone, he is a top 50 player, with Cameron Norrie the only British player above him.

Evans has beaten John Isner and Frances Tiafoe, and came very close to beating Stan Wawrinka in Indian Wells in March.

He has a lovely touch and a great slice, and so will always be very comfortable on the grass.