Dan Evans achieved the best victory of his career by stunning Novak Djokovic in the third round of the Monte Carlo Masters.
The British No.1, whose first round victory was his first on clay at the circuit in four years, had never beaten a top six but put in a brilliant performance against Djokovic, beating No.1 world in two sets, 6- 4 7-5.
Djokovic was scathing about his performance, saying: “Congratulations to him. [Evans]. I mean, he deserved to win. He was a better player. Just more focused I guess and played with better quality in the decisive moments.
“It was probably one of the worst matches and performances for my side that I can remember in recent years. I don’t want to take anything away from his victory but, for my part, I just felt bad on the court overall. Nothing worked. It’s one of those days. I can’t take anything positive out of this game. It’s not the first, nor the last loss, but it definitely leaves a bitter feeling to leave the court this way.
Evans revealed that Djokovic gave him extra motivation. “He made me wait in the locker room before the game so it was a little boring, it got me a little excited,” said the 30-year-old. “It’s one on one, you have to roll the balls and see who wins. He gave me some cheap ones today, which he never normally does, so I had some luck there, but I’m really glad I dropped by.
Djokovic was only playing his second game since winning the Australian Open in February and looked very rusty at first in the cool and windy conditions, losing the first three games. He improved considerably afterwards and fell back to 4-4, but Evans did not allow his level to drop, trading brilliantly with Djokovic from the back of the field and cleverly varying angles and pace.
Another break in serve gave him the chance to serve for the set, and he landed it on his third chance.
Evans reportedly waited for a response from Djokovic and he got it, the Serbian taking a 3-0 lead in the second set, but he still didn’t look quite comfortable and came back to the player. British at level 3-3.
Djokovic kept the pressure on but Evans didn’t give in and, at 5-5, it was the seed who double faulted to give his opponent the break. This gave the 30-year-old the chance to claim the victory of his life and he took the opportunity to advance to the quarter-finals of a Masters for the first time, where he will face David Goffin.