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Dan Evans produced the best victory of his career to stun Novak Djokovic in the third round of the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters.
The British number one, 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 a below-par Djokovic to win 6-4 7-5.
The world number one had won his first 10 matches of the season while Evans went into the tournament on a four-match losing streak.
Djokovic was scathing about his performance, saying: “Congratulations to him. I mean, he deserved to win. He was a better player. Just more focused I guess and played with a better quality in the decisive moments.
“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.
“I can’t take anything positive away from this match. It’s not the first, neither the last, loss but definitely leaves a bitter feeling exiting the court this way.”
It was a first meeting between the two players, and Djokovic said: “He’s got a really all-around game. He’s really a nice player to watch, not a great player to play against. Lots of talent. He’s very unpredictable with his shots. He dismantled my game.”
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.”
Djokovic was playing only his second match since winning the Australian Open in February and looked very rusty initially 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 Serbian moving into a 3-0 lead in the second set, but he still did not look entirely comfortable and back came the British player to level at 3-3.
Djokovic kept the pressure on but Evans did not buckle and, at 5-5, it was the top seed 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 face David Goffin.