Britain’s Dan Evans produced the biggest win of his career by inflicting the first defeat of the year on world No 1 Novak Djokovic at the Monte Carlo Masters on Thursday.
Evans, whose first-round win was his first on clay at tour level for four years, had never beaten a top-six player but he put on a brilliant performance against Djokovic to win 6-4 7-5.
Djokovic, a 2013 and 2015 champion at the Monte-Carlo Country Club, saw his perfect 10-0 start to the year come to an end following a below-par performance by his high standards.
Evans revealed Djokovic had given him some extra motivation, telling Amazon Prime Video: “He kept me waiting in the changing rooms before the match so that was a little annoying, got me a little extra fired up.
“It’s one against one, got to roll the balls out and see who wins. He gave me some cheap ones today, which he never normally does, so I was a little lucky there, but I’m just really happy with coming through.”
The EVO-lution is here 😳
— ATP Tour (@atptour) April 15, 2021
Djokovic was playing only his second match since winning the Australian Open in February and looked very rusty in cool and windy conditions, losing the first three games.
He improved significantly after that and pulled back to 4-4 but Evans did not allow his level to drop, trading brilliantly with Djokovic from the back of the court and varying the angles and pace intelligently.
Another break of serve gave him the chance to serve for the set, and he clinched it on his third chance.
Evans would have expected a response from Djokovic and he got it, the Serb moving into a 3-0 lead in the second set, but he still did not look entirely comfortable and back came the world No 33 to level at 3-3.
Djokovic kept the pressure on but Evans did not buckle and, at 5-5, it was Djokovic who double-faulted to hand his opponent the break.
That gave the 30-year-old the chance to serve for the win of his life and he took it to move into the quarter-finals of a Masters event for the first time where he will play David Goffin.
Congratulations to tennis champion #DanEvans, British No.1, who just defeated World No.1 @DjokerNole!! This has got to be the best win of his career at @ROLEXMCMASTERS. I imagine all at @DanEvansFanPage will be celebrating tonight! Fantastic!🍾🍾 pic.twitter.com/gC3lpp8trH
— Elaine Paige (@elaine_paige) April 15, 2021
Djokovic was scathing about his performance, saying: “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.
“Just was obviously very, very windy, tough to play in these kind of conditions against a guy like Evans who makes you move. He’s very unpredictable with his shots. He dismantled my game.”