By Owen Morgan
Evan Hoyt’s Wimbledon adventure ended with a quarter-final defeat – but praise from two-time champion Andy Murray.
The 24-year-old from Llanelli had enjoyed a dream debut at the tournament, but his remarkable mixed doubles run with partner Eden Silva came to a gallant end in the quarter finals on Thursday evening.
The British duo, making their Wimbledon debuts, finally met their match in the shape of established pairing Ivan Dodig, of Croatia, and Taiwan’s Latisha Chan, going down 7-5, 7-6.
Hoyt then revealed he was in the locker room when Murray – who failed to reach the last eight stage with Serena Williams – congratulated him on his achievement in being the last Brits standing.
“I was in the ice bath and Andy came in and said ‘well done,’” said Hoyt.
“A lot of the guys keep an eye on the results and his mother Judy Murray said ‘well done’ at the restaurant.
“I know her and Andy a little bit as Andy’s good at keeping tabs and knows who is who.
“I am hoping at some point I will get on court with him and get some advice. He’s very supportive of other British players.”
There was no shame in defeat to the number eight seeds who have won the last two mixed doubles titles at the French Open.
An indication of the gulf between the pairings on paper was that Hoyt and Silva had career earnings of £100,000 between them going into the tournament. Dodig and Chan’s combined career earnings are in the region of $12m.
But there was no such difference in the quality of the two couples in the early stages of the match, mystifyingly played on court number two.
Surely, a quarter-final appearance by the last two British players standing in the main draw of the Championship deserved to be held on either Number One Court or Centre Court.
Hoyt added: “We gave it our best and, in the end, that wasn’t good enough, but I still thoroughly enjoyed it out there.
“They (Dodig and Chan) showed why they are two of the very best doubles players in the world. In the end, they deserved it.”
However, Hoyt and Londoner Silva defied their comparatively lowly rankings to make the running in the early stages of the match.
Thanks to a break of serve they roared into a 4-1 lead in the first set. Although, Dodig and Chan, who are ranked 37 and 12 respectively in the world, fought back to 4-4, the Brits still had the opportunity to serve for the set at 5-4.
But the far more experienced pairing finally started to make their class tell in the closing stages of the set as they won three games in a row to close it out 7-5.
Hoyt and Silva, who had recovered from a set down in their previous match, were far from finished and once again made a mockery of their respective doubles seedings of 333 and 172 at the start of the tournament.
In a repeat of the first set they tore into a 4-1 lead with both playing some wonderful tennis. Hoyt’s serving and athletic volleying close to the net in particular drew praise from spectators and pundits alike.
The Welsh No.1 is now starting to fulfil the promise he showed as a junior before a serious shoulder injury put him out of the game for 18 months and led to him considering quitting the sport.
Once again the opposition couple clambered back into the set, but the Brits spurned a chance to level the match when Hoyt had the opportunity to serve for the set at 5-3.
With the match see-sawing from one side to the other, the set went to a tie-break, which saw the underdogs once again establish a potentially decisive lead, going 4-0 up.
But the experienced pairing were not to be denied and they fought back to overhaul the deficit to claim the set and the match.
Ultimately, the difference between the two pairings was Dodig and Chan’s ability to win the decisive points.
And so Hoyt and Silva’s fairytale adventure deep into the second week of Wimbledon was finally over.
But as well as collecting the biggest pay day of their careers so far, they will take massive confidence from their performance.