Dan Evans worked hard to make top 50, but his ability to self-destruct resurfaced

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'I made a mistake' - Evans admits failed drugs test

"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.

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Pundits react to Evans' failed drugs test

Evans had a glorious 10 days in New York in the late summer of 2013 as he not only qualified for the US Open but also beat Kei Nishikori and Bernard Tomic before falling to Tommy Robredo in the third round. But one swallow did not make a summer in that particular year.

The ranking points had presented him with a platform to break into the top 100 for the first time, but 12 months later he was outside the world's top 250. It was known he was not putting in the necessary hours in the gym, and by late 2014 Evans was virtually estranged from the LTA's performance department.

In the words of his former coach, the late Julien Hoferlin, at Wimbledon that year: "He has the potential to make himself a top-60 player, but he makes no sacrifices for his sport.

"He doesn't understand that tennis has to be his priority. For him, it's just a brief interlude in his life."

In March of the following year, Evans failed to show up for his singles match at a Futures event on the Wirral. He had been celebrating St Patrick's Day, and was fined £350.

But then something fell into place and, until this positive test, Evans had managed to balance the life of a top professional with the lifestyle of a thrill-seeker who likes a beer and the company of his mates. A non-playing member of the squad, he celebrated the Davis Cup victory of 2015 with British fans in a Ghent hostelry.

And he has not been afraid to express an opinion.

He has made it quite clear what he thinks of Aljaz Bedene playing under the British flag, and took Kevin Pietersen to task in Melbourne earlier this year for refusing to pose for a photo with him outside the city's casino.

But then, all of a sudden, Evans' newly discovered self-discipline faltered. Temptation became too great, and his ability to self-destruct resurfaced.

His legal team will be far busier during Wimbledon than will he. Their work over the next few months may determine how likely Evans is to return to Grand Slam tennis.

His former Davis Cup captain John Lloyd is in two minds.

"Dan's become such a world-class player and has just looked the part in so many ways, I was quite frankly flabbergasted," he told the BBC.

"This is obviously the most serious thing that he's done by a long, long way. It's very sad but at some stage you've just got to say how many chances do you need to have?

"You're an adult and you can't keep getting away with things and rebounding."

Dan Evans factfile
Born23 May 1990, Birmingham
Turned pro2006
Best Grand Slam performancesAustralian Open: 4R (2016)
French Open: 1R (2017)
Wimbledon: 3R (2016)
US Open: 3R (2013) and (2016)
ATP Tour titles0
ATP Tour finals1 (Sydney 2017)
Career prize money£1,053,266
2017 prize money£319,132