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French Open 2021: Dan Evans ‘not losing sleep’ over Dominic Thiem comments

Dan Evans, Johanna Konta, Cameron Norrie and Heather Watson are Britain’s four representatives in the 2021 French Open singles
Dates: 30 May-13 June Venue: Roland Garros, Paris
Coverage: Live text and radio commentaries of selected matches across BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra, the BBC Sport website and app

Dan Evans says he does not “lose any sleep” over what other players say of him, after comments by Dominic Thiem.

Austrian Thiem suggested the British number one was among the players to benefit from fewer outside temptations during the Covid pandemic because of quarantine rules at tournaments.

Evans aims to continue his fine form in 2021 at next week’s French Open.

“According to him, I must be out a lot, partying a lot. I’m doing all right outside of the bubble too,” he said.

“I’m sure it was meant in the nicest way possible, but I would say Dominic Thiem has done pretty well in the bubble himself, as he won his first Grand Slam in a bubble.”

World number four Thiem earned his first major title at the US Open in September, although he has only won five matches in the past three months.

The 27-year-old took two months away from the tour earlier this year, saying he needed a “small reset” after the physical and emotional effects of winning a Grand Slam took their toll.

Evans, 31, served a one-year drugs ban in 2017 after testing positive for taking cocaine, but has demonstrated his commitment to the sport on his return and reached a career-high ranking of 26th in the world earlier this year.

Speaking to Austrian newspaper Der Standard in April, Thiem said: “There are guys for whom life in the bubble is probably an advantage, for example Dan Evans or Alexander Bublik.

“They have problems focusing on sport in normal times. It’s great for them – they concentrate exclusively on tennis, there is nothing else.”

Evans won the first ATP Tour title of his career at the Murray River Open in January and enjoyed a run to the Monte Carlo semi-finals in April, having beaten Serbia’s world number one Novak Djokovic on the way.

That was despite previously having won only four matches on clay in his career, with the 25th seed now aiming for a first main-draw win on the red dirt in Paris.

Newly engaged Konta feeling ‘excited and confident’

British women’s number one Johanna Konta says she feels “excited” and “confident” as she looks to turn around her form at the place where she reached the semi-finals in 2019.

Konta has won three of her nine matches since losing to American teenager Coco Gauff in last year’s first round at Roland Garros.

The world number 20 has been managing a long-standing knee injury for a number of months, also choosing to miss some tournaments because of the risks associated with travelling during the coronavirus pandemic.

“I feel healthy and healthy in my body. That gives me a sense of confidence,” said Konta, who revealed she got engaged to boyfriend Jackson Wade on her 30th birthday on 17 May.

“There are a lot of other areas that I can draw good feelings of joy from and therefore I feel confident. I’m excited and happy to be here. I’m very grateful for being here.

“You gain and draw confidence from a lot of other things going on in your life and career.

“Winning streaks start somewhere, so there’s no reason why it can’t start in the next tournament.”

In-form Norrie aiming to replicate success on the biggest stage

While Konta and Evans are Britain’s highest-ranked players, Cameron Norrie goes into the French Open as the nation’s most in-form hope.

Only Stefanos Tsitsipas and Andrey Rublev have claimed more ATP match wins than the 25-year-old in 2021. Norrie boasts a 14-4 win-loss record on the clay this year, having reached the finals at Estoril and Lyon.

Norrie has reached the third round at the past two Grand Slams and looks a decent bet to continue that form in Paris.

Last week, he beat Thiem – a two-time runner-up at Roland Garros in 2018 and 2019 – in straight sets in Lyon, before going on to lose to Greek world number five Tsitsipas in the final.

Norrie is ranked 45th in the world but that would be significantly higher if the coronavirus pandemic had not led to temporary changes to the system to protect players during a disrupted schedule.

“In general, my whole game has improved. I think my worst game has got better, if that makes sense,” said Norrie.

“I am being the one dictating play and being a more bit more aggressive and I think it’s showing in the matches and it’s showing in the bigger points.

“I think I always could could play well on the clay and I think it’s just the fact that I’ve been doing it day in, day out and it’s been a bit more consistent.”

Heather Watson is Britain’s final representative in the singles and the world number 71 has won just one of her past seven matches.

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