Dan Evans splits with coach after form slump

Daniel Evans of Great Britain plays a forehand against Fabio Fognini of Italy during the Men's Singles First Round match on Day Four of the Internazionali BNL D'Italia 2024 at Foro Italico on May 09, 2024 in Rome, Italy
Evans hit rock bottom when losing in a Challenger event in Bordeaux on Friday - Getty Images/Dan Istitene

British No 3 Dan Evans has split from coach Sebastian Prieto for the second – and probably final – time after a form slump that has seen Evans win only three ATP Tour matches this season.

The relationship is understood to have broken down a couple of weeks ago after an argument about a racket re-string job, although there is clearly a wider context relating to Evans’s poor recent results.

On Friday, Evans’s run to the quarter-finals of the BNP Paribas Primrose Challenger event in Bordeaux came to an end, via a 7-6, 6-4 defeat at the hands of the 19-year-old Chinese player Juncheng Shang.

This was an unkind draw, as Evans has long struggled with mobile left-handers like Shang, especially when they can spin heavy forehands into his own backhand wing. Even so, this straight-sets defeat at the hands of the world No 105 offered further evidence of Evans’s struggles this season and leaves his ranking languishing somewhere in the early 60s.

Prieto and Evans first teamed up in 2021, and worked together until last summer’s grass-court season. At that point, Evans dispensed with Prieto – an Argentine who played doubles on the tour and formerly coached 2009 US Open champion Juan Martin del Potro – on the grounds that he was not available for enough tournaments.

By October, the two men had reconciled, but it looks like this latest split will probably be terminal. At the time of writing, there was no indication of any new appointment, and Evans had taken Mason Recci – a former Futures player who also comes from the Midlands – with him to Bordeaux as a hitting partner.

Meanwhile, world No 1 Novak Djokovic has entered next week’s event in Geneva as he searches for matches ahead of the French Open, which starts in 10 days’ time.

Djokovic had to undergo concussion checks in Rome this week after he was hit on the head by a metal water bottle falling from the stands, but the decision to take a late wild card into Geneva suggests that there is nothing seriously wrong with his health.

Nevertheless, Djokovic has only played six clay-court matches to date this season – an unprecedented situation in the build-up to Roland Garros. He is likely to celebrate his 37th birthday at the Geneva Open, where the draw should also feature his near-exact contemporary Andy Murray. Were they to end up meeting in the first round, it would feel like a flashback to the mid-2010s.

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