Dan Evans defeated Novak Djokovic 6-4, 7-5 in the third round of the Monte Carlos Masters to end the Serb’s unbeaten streak in singles at the start of 2021 ATP Tour season.
Evans, who had won only four clay-court matches prior to arriving in the principality, booked a place in his first ATP Masters 1000 quarterfinal with a stunning win over the 2013 and 2015 champion in two hours and nine minutes.
“It hasn’t sunk in yet,” Evans said in his post-match interview.
“I couldn’t quite believe the last ball went over the net. It nearly didn’t. I was pleased, regardless, with how I was playing coming into the match. I felt good. You can never be confident coming into such a big match like that against Novak.
“It is clearly a big win and I am delighted that I got through, especially being a break down and [having had] little difficulties in the first set. It was really pleasing and I am delighted.”
World No. 33 Evans, who used his slice to great effect, held his nerve after seeing a double-break lead evaporate, then fought back from 0-3 down in the second set.
He saved one set point at 4-5, 30/40 en route to his fourth Top 10 victory (4-14 lifetime) that ended Djokovic’s perfect 10-0 start to 2021, which includes lifting his ninth Australian Open crown.
“The biggest thing is, you have got to believe you can win. I can walk on saying it, but you have really got to believe it. Of course, I doubted myself in the match. Serving it out is not easy. You have got all sorts [of things] running through your head.
“I am just happy with how it went and it will be one to savour for maybe after the tournament, to tell the kids and grandkids that you beat the World No. 1. It is a nice one.”
The 30-year-old Evans, who captured his first ATP Tour title in February at the Murray River Open (d. Auger-Aliassime), will now play Belgian No. 11 seed David Goffin, who knocked out fifth-seeded German Alexander Zverev 6-4, 7-6(7) in one hour and 51 minutes.
Goffin saved one set point at 6/7 in the second set tie-break and closed out on his fifth match point.