MONACO (AP) — Top-ranked Novak Djokovic lost 6-4, 7-5 to Dan Evans on Thursday in the third round of the Monte Carlo Masters for his first defeat of the year.
No. 3 Rafael Nadal had no such problems, breezing past Grigor Dimitrov 6-1, 6-1 to reach the quarterfinals of a tournament he has won a record 11 times.
It was an unusually sloppy performance from Djokovic, the Australian Open champion who has 82 career titles compared to one for his unseeded British opponent.
“I don’t want to take anything away from his win, but from my side I just felt awful on the court,” Djokovic said. “Nothing worked. It’s one of those days.”
Having won in Melbourne for his 18th major title, Djokovic was 10-0 in 2021 coming into the match. But he faced pressure from the outset as he trailed 3-0 in the first set.
“Should have and could have done much, much better,” Djokovic said. “I can’t take anything positive away from this match.”
He dropped his serve five times in windy conditions.
“Tough to play in these kind of conditions against a guy like Evans who makes you move,” Djokovic said. “He’s very unpredictable with his shots. He dismantled my game.”
Evans, after breaking for a 6-5 lead in the second set, clinched victory on his first match point with a forehand winner that clipped the net.
“It probably hasn’t sunk in yet, I couldn’t quite believe that last ball went over the net. It nearly didn’t,” said Evans, who is ranked 33rd. “It’s clearly a big win. That’s the biggest thing, you’ve got to believe you can win. Serving it out isn’t easy, you’ve got all these things going through your head.”