I was at his match and I'm sorry to say it was disappointing not just because he lost but because his opponent was being a bit of an ass towards him.
Anyway, it started out that Evans was in complete control although Benoît wasn't playing badly. So of course Evans was leading a set and a double break and Benoît's coach kept telling him to keep fighting and hang in there and suddendly all his ground shots and returns that had been slightly missing the lines before, all started going in. He literally caught FIRE, it was a pleasure to watch him play and because he was suddenly playing so well, he got excited. Well more overexcited and started "Allez"ing and "Vamos"ing on every winner he hit and pumping himself up a lot, which was totally understandable (although the grunting gota little louder but not a bad level). Well Evans started to take offence to this, responding by mocking his celebrations when he finally won a point (Benoît won at least 10 points in a row when he was on- it was beautiful to watch!). Evans celeebrated witha loud "Allez".
After Evans had got so frustrated that he started talking aloud, sometimes in the direction of Benoît's coach (who I was standing almost next to, so I could hear everything that was said). The coach was just giving a Gallic shrug in response but Benoît got really visably frustrated (and even stopped celebrating his winners at one point
). The coach just tried to focus him and told him to "fight like a lion" I believe, which was successful in the outcome of this set but unfortunately experience of Evans wore him down (he only played the 1 bad service game in the 3rd set and it was unfortunately enough).
Some things that Evans was saying:
"Look at him pumping himself up, what a dumbass!"
"Look at the dumbass (yes he used that word a lot
) sliding as if he was on clay!"
"I'm going to hit 4 winners in this game, like he's been doing! Watch."- This was said when Benoît was really holding his serve comfortably in the early part of the 3rd set. For the record Evans played a rubbish game after saying he was going to hit winners but did win it!
He was just making a lot of nasty, sarcastic comments really throughout the match and Benoît to his credit, didn't rise to the provokations and if anything got quieter but I think it affected him winning this match a little, which is why I've mentioned it here.
Evans also finished the match by screaming "Yeahhhhhhhhh!" really loudly for over 30 seconds and then didn't look at Benoît when he half gave him his hand. Benoît just looked puzzled at why he was so pissed off.
Anyway, obnoxious opponent apart, I was really impressed with Benoît's performance, obviously he is still very green and raw but in those moments when he was 'on' his game was flowing and so beautiful to watch. The variety was an absolute treat. I'm really looking forward to when it all comes together! He did have a few footing problems and fell a few times when Evans would get him out wide but the conditions weren't great, humid, and a lot of other players who are good grass courters were also struggling. I don't think the courts they used for Qualifiers are that great to play on.
It was also nice that other French players stopped by to cheer him on including Mannarino, Ouanna (on his way back from the practise courts) and a French player I know but couldn't recognise!