Dan Evans still has work to do after drugs ban as he’s denied a wildcard by Wimbledon

MATT MAJENDIE
Missing out: Dan Evans lost to Adrian Mannarino at Queen's on Tuesday: PA

Dan Evans has been denied a wildcard for the main draw or qualifying at Wimbledon following his recent return from a year-long drugs ban.

Despite losing in the opening round of the Fever-Tree Championships to France’s Adrian Mannarino, the Briton has been in good form, reaching two finals in his five tournaments to date.

A statement from the All England Club read: “This decision is based on principle in the immediacy of his return from a suspension from competition. He will be competing in the pre-qualifying at the All England Club this week for the opportunity to secure one of the remaining places into qualifying.”

The 28-year-old, who had been handed a wildcard for Queen’s, had been hopeful of a similar invitation by Wimbledon bosses but his hopes of taking part hang in the balance, with his only route being through pre- qualifying, which begins tomorrow.

Opinion has been divided on what opportunities should be made available for Evans on his return after being banned for a year for cocaine use.

Following his own first-round defeat at Queen’s yesterday, Andy Murray said: “It’s a difficult one. He’s obviously played extremely well the past few weeks. He deserves it.

“Whether or not it’s the right message to be sending, I don’t know but then some would say he’s obviously served his time and should be given a second chance.”

Kyle Edmund, the only Briton to make it into the second round at Queen’s this year, was less forthcoming, suggesting he didn’t want to give his opinion on whether his former Davis Cup teammate warranted such a wildcard.

But Wimbledon officials took the view that Evans still has work to do to prove he deserves his place back on the game’s world stage.

Evans has been contrite on his return, talking at length about his ruinous decision to take drugs, and after losing to Mannarino was sanguine about his current situation.

“If I’m playing prequalifiers, it’s still an opportunity to get into the tournament,” he said. “If someone had said I’d be playing those a year ago, I’d have taken that. It’s fine by me if I’m playing in that tournament.

“It’s about me proving to myself and the other players that I’m worthy of playing these tournaments.”

Wimbledon has been rather more generous to Evans’s countrymen and women with eight wildcards for home players into the main draw.

Brother and sister Liam and Naomi Broady are among the recipients, along with Jay Clarke, who was Murray’s hitting partner for much of Wimbledon a year ago.

Five other British women have wildcards into the women’s singles: Katie Boulter, Harriet Dart, Katy Dunne, Katie Swan and Gabriella Taylor.

There are also wildcards for Alex de Minaur, the Australian who defeated Evans in straight sets to win the Nottingham Challenger title recently, and Tunisian Ons Jabeur.

Laura Robson, meanwhile, is not on the wildcard list but the injury-plagued former Wimbledon junior title winner revealed last week that she would have rejected the invitation anyway.

Robson does not even make the wildcards into qualifying, with 10 Britons in all handed berths for the event at Roehampton next week.

Six men — Jack Draper, George Loffhagen, Anton Matusevich, Aidan McHugh, Alexander Ward and James Ward — and four women — Holly Fischer, Francesca Jones, Maia Lumsden and Emma Raducanu — have all been invited to take part.

Wimbledon still has the potential to hand out five further wildcards into the men’s singles and one more for the women’s main draw between now and the start of the tournament in 12 days’ time.