British No. 1 Dan Evans produced the performance of his life as he defeated Novak Djokovic in straight sets in the pairs very first meeting. Evans becomes only the second British player to defeat a World no. 1 on clay, after Andy Murray overcame the Serb in 2016.
Going into the encounter, Evans had only won six tour-level matches on clay, but that seemed far from the truth as the Brit raced to a double break lead early on. The two-time champion in Monte Carlo showed exactly why he tops the world rankings and clawed himself back to level up the first set. However, Evans used to full repertoire of his shots to devastating effect as he broke the Djokovic serve for the third time and held firm to take a one set lead.
The Serb tidied up his game and gained a 3-0 lead in the second as he looked to gather some momentum. The charge was halted as the British no. 1 broke back with a sublime inside-in forehand winner. The pair exchanged some lengthy rallies and Evans did not seem phased by the 18-time Grand Slam champion – playing the match on his terms. Djokovic never really seemed comfortable as Evans secured the biggest win of his career to date.
With his memorable win, Evans is through to his first ever quarterfinal at a Masters 1000s event.
The Belgian is a clean ball striker with impeccable timing off both wings. Goffin is blessed with the ability to take the ball on the rise and make his opponents feel rushed at times. The World no. 15 is also a tremendous athlete often covering the court with ease and he can still find a winner at the end of his range thanks to his technique.
At times, the 30-year-0ld can be unplayable and there isn’t much his opponents can do when he hits a purple patch. Goffin has a pretty strong resumé on the dirt too, with a title on this surface under his belt and a semifinal showing at Monte Carlo in 2017 to back up a Roland Garros quarterfinal.
Evans will need to replicate the level he showed against Djokovic and if he does that, a maiden Masters 1000s semifinal is well within his reach. Against the Serb, Evans mixed his game up perfectly, coming to the net at the right time and teasing Djokovic with slice backhands and forehand drives. The same game plan against Goffin could reap a whole lot of rewards.
The Belgian has done well to navigate his way to this stage, defeating three former Grand Slam semi-finalists along the way. Goffin plays a fairly similar style of tennis to the World no. 1 so that will give the Brit tonnes of confidence and belief going into this one. Evans has rewritten the narrative of his clay court prowess this week and another big win doesn’t seem too out of the question.
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