Monte Carlo quietly fired the world number 1. Daniel Evans beat Novak Djokovic 6-4, 7-5 in the round of 16. Winner of the tournament in 2013 and 2015, the Serbian dug his own grave in a match riddled with unforced errors. Djokovic had easily beaten Jannik Sinner, a recent finalist in Miami, in his debut on clay, but he once again demonstrated the difficulties of adapting to this surface.
After winning his ninth Australian Open in February, he suffers his first loss of the season. Djokovic reacted in the second quarter, which came to dominate 3-0 and where he enjoyed a point to equal a set, but his scandalous figure of 45 unforced errors was an irremediable drag against the British, 33rd in the world, a player who has said very little about clay throughout his career.
He delivered the serve in the eleventh game with a double fault and ended the match with a raise to the suicide net. Angry, monologue with himself, he did not find the temperance or the courage to carry out a commitment that in principle involved less difficulty than that of his debut.
Djokovic's difficulties on clay are not new, the unfinished business of the man who will seek his nineteenth Grand Slam title at Roland Garros. Last year, when the tournament was played in October, he played his fifth final against Nadal (he was champion in 2016), but received one of the toughest losses conceded against the southpaw.
He is expected in Rome and Madrid before facing the Parisian appointment. While speaking to the media after the shock loss, Novak Djokovic was sharply critical of his own play, claiming that it was one of his worst performances in recent times.
Novak Djokovic discusses his loss in Montecarlo
"To be honest, I mean, this has been probably one of the worst matches and performances from my side I can recall in the last years," Novak Djokovic said. "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." Djokovic also praised Evans' strategy during the match, claiming that the Brit 'dismantled' his game with his clever shot placement. "Just was obviously very, very windy, tough to play in these kinds of conditions against a guy like Evans who makes you move," Djokovic said.
"He’s very unpredictable with his shots. He dismantled my game. I mean, I was just not feeling it, and playing pretty bad," Djokovic said. "Obviously right now, as I walk off the court, I'm disappointed with the way I played, the way I felt on the court. But it's a long clay season. Still plenty of tournaments, plenty of room to improve."