Dan Evans entered the week at the Monte Carlo Masters with a total four career wins on clay courts. Today, he collected his third victory of the week on his least favorite surface stunning World No. 1 Novak Djokovic 6-4, 7-5 in 2 hours, 9 minutes.
“Obviously I’m happy,” Evans said. “I’m still in the tournament. After the tournament, I’ll look back at what a good day it was. Yeah, it was obviously an amazing feeling to win and to come through.”
On a dreary day, Djokovic donated a whopping 45 unforced errors to just 22 winners while Evans effectively used his backhand slice. The Serb, who twice won Monte Carlo, led with a break 3-0 in the second and even had a set point to force a decider.
Evans and Djokovic had never played before on the tour, and the 30-year-old Brit broke Djokovic five times for arguably his biggest career win.
“I felt very good,” Evans said. “But more importantly I didn’t feel he was being too aggressive, pushing me back too much. I was comfortable in the points. I hit my forehand well.
“When I got the first set, I had to deal with a bit of adversity at 3-Love and just hang in there. I guess when I held at 5-4 after the set point, I think I sort of sensed he really wanted that. Obviously he wanted the point, but he made a big error. I felt that was because of the pressure I was applying on him. He felt he needed to take that point there and then.
“I felt pretty relaxed up until probably 40-15, to be honest. He come at me at 40-15, and I felt, Just give it a good go here. It’s a nice feeling when it was over.”
Djokovic suffered his first loss of 2021. He had blamed it on a bad day and hinted at an ailment.
“Congratulations to him,” Djokovic said in defeat. “He deserved to win. He was a better player. Just more focused I guess and played with a better quality in the decisive moments.
“To be honest, I mean, this has been probably one of the worst matches and performances from my side I can recall in the last years. I don’t want to take anything away from his win, but from my side, I just felt awful on the court overall. Just nothing worked. It’s one of those days.
“A little bit beforehand, since yesterday,” he commented on why he wasn’t doing well on court. “I don’t want to talk about it. Should have and could have done much, much better. I mean, just awful performance. I can’t take anything positive away from this match.
“Just one of these things you have to accept. I guess you have to move on. It’s not the first neither the last loss, but definitely leaves a bitter feeling exiting the court this way.”
Evans will continues on Friday in the quarterfinals against David Goffin who ousted Alexander Zverev 6-4, 7-6(7) to reach his third Monte Carlo quarterfinal.
With Djokovic out, the clear favorite — if there was any doubt — is Rafael Nadal. The 11-time champion destroyed an ailing Grigor Dimitrov 6-1, 6-1. The Bulgarian was struggling with a tooth issue which led to the under-an-hour blowout.
“Today Grigor missed much more than usual him,” Nadal said. “We had some amazing battles together. Is true that today was not one of these ones.
“I feel a little bit sorry for him today, that he played I think a bad match. I did my thing. But that’s it. I am just focused on try to play as good as possible every single point.
“I think I had good days of practice before the tournament to start. Full respect for every opponent. On the paper, Dimitrov today is going to be a big test. Then situation was different.”
After two easy wins, Nadal will now test one of the hottest players the last five months, Andrey Rublev. The Russian scored a good win over Roberto Bautista Agut 7-7(2), 5-7, 6-3.
Fabio Fognini continued on his title defense easing past Filip Krajinovic 6-2, 7-6(1). He’ll now meet Casper Ruud who came from 5-2 down in the third to beat Pablo Carreno Busta 7-6(4), 5-7, 7-5 in three hours.
Stefanos Tsitsipas was an early victor over Cristian Garin 6-3, 6-4. He’ll get young Spaniard Alejandro Davidovich Fokina who bested Lucas Pouille.
FRIDAY MONTE CARLO SCHEDULE
Court Rainier III Starts At 11:00 Am
QF 4 Stefanos Tsitsipas v Alejandro Davidovich Fokina
QF Daniel Evans v 11 David Goffin
Not Before 2:00 Pm
QF Casper Ruud v 15 Fabio Fognini
QF 6 Andrey Rublev v 3 Rafael Nadal
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