Dan Evans, Great Britain’s number one tennis player and one capable of competing with the best in the world, claimed his maiden ATP title on Sunday and could reach further heights in 2021.
The start of the 2021 tennis season has had a sort of reshuffle compared to previous years due to the impact the Coronavirus pandemic across the world.
Tournaments are usually held across Brisbane, Sydney, and Perth in the lead up to the Australian Open but this year all the pre-Grand Slam events would take place in Melbourne.
Cheltenham resident Evans was one of those hundreds of players in a hotel that Tennis Australia had allocated to maintain a hold on the risk of one of them or a member of staff testing positive.
The Briton first reach an ATP Tour final four years ago, falling to Gilles Muller in Sydney, and broke into the top 50 before being suspended from the tour for a drugs ban later in 2017.
But since his return to professional tennis in April 2018, Evans has only risen up the rankings again, reaching his second tour-level final at Delray Beach in 2019 (lost to Radu Albot), breaking into the top 30 for the first time last year and cementing himself as the British number one.
Evidently 2020 was one of the the 30-year old’s best seasons to date, but not just for reaching a career best ranking.
Evans recorded eight wins against opponents ranked inside the top 20 during the Covid struck season, such as Andrey Rublev, Karen Khachanov, Fabio Fognini and Grigor Dimitrov, with his best results reaching the semi-finals in Dubai and Vienna.
However the British number one kicked off his 2021 campaign in the best possible way, taking the title at the Murray River Open, one of the many events going on in Melbourne.
Quite simply the matter in which he did it is of great significance and impact to the rest of the season.
Seeded eighth, Evans powered through his five matches without dropping a set, beating fourth seed Borna Coric in the quarter-finals and seeing off one of the most promising young players in the final, Felix Auger-Aliassime, 6-2 6-3.
Now ranked number 26 in the world and seeded 30th for the Australian Open it seems only a matter of time before the Briton becomes a constant threat at the later stages of tournaments.
Evans has recorded two wins against top 10 opponents in his career: Dominic Thiem, Sydney 2017, and Marin Cilic, Australian Open 2017. But has challenged others as well.
Back at the 2016 US Open he was one point away from beating eventual champion Stan Wawrinka in the third round and has faced the likes of Roger Federer, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Kei Nishikori, Gael Monfils and Rafael Nadal before.
But having got that maiden title secured it could propel Evans further with more confidence for the year.
In fact he is projected for a clash with world number two Nadal in the third round of the Australian Open should he overcome fellow countryman Cameron Norrie and then either Ilya Ivashka or Roman Safiullin.
2021 could be a platform for great success for Evans and his unique style of play.