Racquet Tap Drama Highlights Day 2 At Battle Of The Brits

Dan Evans (photo: @the_LTA/Twitter)

WASHINGTON, July 29, 2020 (by Michael Dickens)

Whomever thought that the lack of a time-honored, proper handshake at the net would rob players and fans alike of some of the drama we’ve all come to expect during these pandemic times didn’t see what transpired at The Battle Of The Brits in Roehampton, England, on Tuesday.

After British No. 1 Dan Evans battled for one hour and 30 minutes to beat British No. 2 Kyle Edmund 6-4, 6-4 on Centre Court at the National Tennis Center, the feisty-tempered Evans awaited his fallen opponent’s arrival at the net to tap racquets. Perhaps, a bit moody after losing, Edmund tapped Evans racquet – arguably – a bit too hard for comfort.

“Be very careful, Kyle,” Evans declared, looking back over his shoulder at Edmund, as he headed toward the plaudits surrounding his team’s bench. “Be very careful, mate.”

Once he sat down for a moment, Evans continued his beef in the ear-shot of his teammates: Did you see what he did to my racquet? He just teed my racquet. When I put my racquet there, he just absolutely belted my racquet.”

Off screen, one of his teammates said, “I think he was kind of joking. I don’t think it was serious.” To which Evans retorted, “Well, I think it was.”

Perhaps, Edmund was frustrated because it was his second straight loss to Evans after losing in the final of the first Battle Of The Brits last month. Or, it could be because he was outplayed by Evans, who served four aces, hit 18 winners and committed just five unforced errors compared to Edmund’s four aces, 16 winners and 12 unforced errors. Evans converted two of six break point while Edmund was zero-for-four.

Evans’s victory was worth three points, which was crucial to the Union Jacks. However, by the end of the day, the British Bulldogs still maintained a comfortable lead in the team standings. “We’ve lost some tight ones, we’ve had some chances,” said Evans during a post-match interview. “It was good to get some momentum.”

“I played aggressive, I served really well,” said Evans, by now cooled off, in analyzing the positives of his win. “I came forward and stayed in the points well and I was proud with how I served and moved, really.”

Off the court, Evans has been caught on camera as his team’s most vocal supporter in this week-long mixed-team concept. “I’ve been trying to help everyone through, make it a little easier. It’s going to be a long week. When we support, it helps get everyone through the match.”

Meanwhile, in the undercard to the Evans-Edmund tussle, British women’s No. 1 Johanna Konta fought hard, coming from a set and a break down, to pull out a three-set victory over Progress Tour champion Katie Boulter, 2-6, 7-6 (5), 10-6. Konta’s win bolstered the attack for the British Bulldogs, who finished the day with an 18-8 point advantage over the Union Jacks thanks to wins by Cameron Norrie, Liam Broady and Maia Lumsden in singles and a win in doubles by Harriet Dart and Beth Grey.

During her post-match interview on court, Konta appeared relieved to beat Boulter after losing her opening match to Jodie Burrage on Monday. “Just the chance to bring the competitive juices to the front and really bring some good tennis to the court … I felt I was able to come to the party a bit. I thought by the end, we were playing some great tennis,” she said.

Konta added: “These are my first competitive matches since the beginning of March. It’s going to take time more than anything else, like yesterday, like today. I think just giving myself a chance to start playing better, putting myself in a better mind set, I gave myself a chance to get better.”

Elsewhere, both Jamie and Andy Murray were on court playing mixed doubles with different outcomes. First, Jamie Murray teamed with Olivia Nicholls for a 7-6 (4), 6-4 win over Alastair Gray and Eden Silva. Then, in the final match of the day as twilight began to settle over Centre Court, Andy Murray – who is playing doubles only this week – and Burrage fell to Joe Salisbury and Emma Raducanu, 4-6, 6-4, 10-8. The end came when Burrage got in the way of a Murray shot that likely would have saved a match point. We’ll never know, but the pair took it in good stride.

Philadelphia, Chicago eye WTT showdown

First place in the World TeamTennis standings will be on the line Wednesday (Tennis Channel, 11 a.m. EDT, 4 p.m. BST, 5 p.m. CEST), when the Philadelphia Freedoms (10-2) and the Chicago Smash (9-3) meet at The Greenbrier Resort in White Sulphur Springs, W.V., where the entire three-week WTT season has been taking place due to the coronavirus outbreak. On Tuesday, Philadelphia moved into first place with a 24-19 win over the San Diego Aviators. The regular season concludes Thursday with the top four teams advancing to Saturday’s semifinals. The championship is Sunday afternoon.

What they’re photographing

Ryan Loco has been taking and posting some fabulous action shots all month from World TeamTennis at The Greenbrier Resort in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia. Here is a sample of some of his latest, featuring Sloane Stephens, Tennys Sandgren, Evan King and Sabine Lasicki.

What they’re sharing on social media

Karolina Pliskova / Almost touched the sun

Petra Kvitova / Picture-perfect forehand

Daria Gavrilova / Having fun with Tik-Tok