British tennis should take a lead from the greatest of all time, Dan Evans claimed on Friday, by prioritising bread-and-butter drills ahead of fancy analytics.
Evans – who will open his French Open campaign against 23rd seed Fernando Verdasco – was speaking about his recent three-day trip to Switzerland to train with Roger Federer. He came back impressed both by Federer’s relaxed way of dealing with attention, and by the spit-and-sawdust way he approached his tennis.
“How he goes about his business and his practises, I was pretty surprised how simple a lot of the drills were,” said Evans of Federer. “It was a bit of an eye-opener, [compared] to what’s being done in our country, to see what the greatest tennis player of all time does.
“It was just so basic,” Evans added. “So [in British tennis] let’s maybe get the basics right, walk before we can run. We need more people inside 200 or 300 [on the rankings] before we start having analysis and stuff like that. But hey, what do I know?”
The Lawn Tennis Association employs four analysts to break down opponents’ styles of play. Their packages of clips and information have been used by Andy Murray in the past, and are also heavily employed by the Davis Cup and Fed Cup captains.
To return to Evans, he received an invitation to Switzerland – where his host paid his accommodation costs – via Federer’s coach Ivan Ljubicic. “Ivan messaged me and just said ‘Is there any chance you could do it?’ I got on the flight the next morning.
“He was so down to earth,” added Evans of Federer. “It was a bit surreal sometimes how we ate lunch and stuff – he didn’t hide away or anything, and he didn’t change his day because people were going to come up to him. We went to a golf club for lunch, we went to a pretty average tennis club for lunch as well. So it was just normal.”