“I let a lot of people down,” admitted Dan Evans after his run to the third round of Wimbledon last year.
“It was difficult to keep letting those guys down, seeing them disappointed in what I’d been doing. Gradually they sort of got the message through. But it took a few knocks at the door.”
Twelve months on, he is mouthing very similar sentiments as he owns up to a positive test for cocaine.
Friday’s apology, on the second floor of a West London hotel, sounded impressive and genuine – but Evans does not need anyone to knock on the door to remind him what a complete and utter fool he has been.
He has worked very hard in the past two years, from a nadir of 772 in the rankings, to establish himself as a top-50 player.
With the assistance of coach Mark Hilton, he has reached at least the third round in three of the past four Grand Slams, and at 27 could perhaps have been approaching the most successful and lucrative years of his career. He has won over half a million pounds in the past 12 months alone, and earned generous praise from Andy Murray.
But now he rightly faces a lengthy ban from the sport, and who knows what his motivation levels will be when he returns, presumably unranked, to the lower levels of the Futures circuit.
“Every saint has a past and every sinner has a future.” So reads the tattoo on Evans’ left forearm, and he has done his best to live up to Oscar Wilde’s words throughout his career.
If the past two years represent his saintly period, and I appreciate I am stretching the analogy here, his previous history was a chequered one.
He has twice been stripped of his LTA funding: in 2008, for four months, when he was caught drinking until the early hours with Daniel Smethurst on the eve of a Wimbledon junior doubles match. The governing body has brandished both carrot and stick over the years – mindful of his prodigious talent.