Roquebrune-Cap-Martin (France), April 15: Dan Evans produced a stunning victory over Novak Djokovic at the Monte Carlo Masters, revealing the world number one had irritated him before the match even began.
A 6-4 7-5 victory for 33rd-ranked Evans in his first career clash with Djokovic carried the Briton through to his first Masters 1000 quarter-final and inflicted a first defeat of 2021 on his opponent.
The seeds of the upset were planted before the players hit the court, Evans later revealed, with the 30-year-old having been irked at having to wait for Djokovic in the locker room.
Top seed Djokovic was playing his first tournament since winning the Australian Open in February, for his 18th grand slam title, and he found it tough against a player who has previously enjoyed little success on clay.
"I thought I did a good job to get out of my service games. He had so many break points but didn't take them, so I was a little lucky there," Evans told Amazon Prime.
"I ran around the first second serve I got, to tell him I'm not going to just stand back and rally, I'm going to try to hit his second serve a little, and I got a few doubles out there."
Djokovic served four double faults, with Evans setting the tone for the match by surging 3-0 ahead early in the opening set.
Who saw that coming?
Dan Evans beats the World No. 1 to make the last eight in Monte-Carlo!pic.twitter.com/rAbx4gvTVR— ATP Tour (@atptour) April 15, 2021
"He kept me waiting at the start of the match in the changing rooms a little bit, so it was a little annoying," Evans said. "I was ready to go from that, so that got me a little extra fired up."
Rather than being intimidated by the presence of Djokovic on the other side of the net, Evans indicated he treated the Serbian like just another opponent, there to be beaten.
"That's why we roll the balls out, it's one against one and we've got to see who wins," Evans said.
"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."
Evans' win was hailed by former British number one Tim Henman, who said: "He played fantastic tennis. In difficult conditions, he was the one that really dealt with it so well.
"Those first three games where he got up a double break, that probably changed his mindset. It increased his belief and Djokovic was frustrated, but in so many critical moments it was Evans who came up with the great tennis.
"It's an unbelievable achievement. Evans has won so few matches on clay so to beat the world number one, it's an amazing win."