Monte Carlo Masters: Dan Evans shocks world primary Novak Djokovic

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Dan Evans had never played Novak Djokovic before

British number 1 Dan Evans took the biggest win of his career beating Novak Djokovic in the last 16 of the Monte Carlo Masters.

Evans, who has been fighting on clay lately, got off to a great start against the world number one and broke it in his first two service games.

He was able to complete the opening set before Djokovic hit back at the beginning of the second set.

But Evans bounced back and held his nerve to take a 6-4 7-5 win.

It was Djokovic’s first defeat in 2021 and Evans will face David Goffin of Belgium, number 15 in the world, in his first Masters Series quarter-finals.

“He gave away some cheap ones today, which he normally never does, but I’m just very happy,” said Evans.

“He made me wait a bit in the locker room at the beginning of the game. That heated me up a little more.

“My game plan was to bring him forward and let him hit the ball deep in the field.

“It was difficult to get online and I felt like I was running too much at times.

“But I also thought I did a good job getting out of my service games. He had so many breakpoints and he didn’t take them so I was a little lucky there.”

At the first meeting between the two, Evans started aggressively and took advantage of the sloppy game of the 18-time Grand Slam winner.

He led 3-0 before Djokovic finished 3-2, but a long sixth game put Evans 4-2 ahead.

His chance in the set seemed to have passed when a break from Djokovic made it 4-4, but another sloppy service game by the Serb gave the Briton hope and he held the serve to bring the set up to its third target.

Djokovic took a 3-0 lead in the second set, but Evans showed great determination to make it 3-3.

Evans saved a set point in the 10th game; then a dramatic double mistake gave the British a chance to serve for victory and he made no mistake.

“To be honest, this was one of the worst games my team has ever played in the last few years,” said Djokovic, who ended up with 45 easy mistakes.

“Overall, I felt terrible on the pitch. Nothing worked. Just one of those days.

“It was just a terrible performance. I can’t do anything positive about this game. It definitely feels bitter when you leave the field like this.”

“He deserved the win. He was a better player. He was just more focused and played with a better quality in the crucial moments.”

“He’s a really nice player to watch, not a great player to play against. A lot of talent. He’s very unpredictable with his shots. He dismantled my game.”

analysis

BBC tennis correspondent Russell Fuller

Djokovic started and ended very poorly, but this was a great clay court performance from a player who had previously only won four tour-level clay court games in his entire career.

Evans becomes the first man to beat the world number one and Australian Open champion this year.

His unpredictable style was underpinned by a good serving. Djokovic says he hasn’t felt well in the past 24 hours but also admitted that Evans had “dismantled his game”.

The UK number one surprise run in Monte Carlo came at just the right time, as Evans had lost five of his six games since winning a first ATP title in Melbourne in February.

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