Monte Carlo Masters 2021: Novak Djokovic Upset, Rafael Nadal Wins on Thursday

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistApril 15, 2021

Spain's Rafael Nadal celebrates after defeating Italy's Fabio Fognini in their fourth round match at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Monday, Feb. 15, 2021.(AP Photo/Andy Brownbill)
Andy Brownbill/Associated Press

One of the biggest dominoes fell Thursday in the Monte Carlo Masters. Daniel Evans sent top-seeded Novak Djokovic packing in the third round.

Djokovic wasn't the only notable star eliminated, as Alexander Zverev was unable to overcome David Goffin. Rafael Nadal, on the other hand, didn't have much trouble with Grigor Dimitrov.

Here's a look at how the action unfolded in the south of France.


Thursday Results

Daniel Evans def. No. 1 Novak Djokovic 6-4, 7-5

No. 3 Rafael Nadal def. Grigor Dimitrov 6-1, 6-1

No. 4 Stefanos Tstisipas def. No. 16 Cristian Garin 6-3, 6-4

No. 11 David Goffin def. No. 5 Alexander Zverev 6-4, 7-6(7)

No. 6 Andrey Rublev def. No. 9 Roberto Bautista Agut 7-6(2), 5-7, 6-3

Casper Ruud def. No. 12 Pablo Carreno Busta 7-6(4), 5-7, 7-5

No. 15 Fabio Fognini def. Filip Krajinovic 6-2, 7-6(1)

Alejandro Davidovich Fokina def. Lucas Pouille 6-2, 7-6(2)



Like Nadal, Djokovic hadn't competed in an ATP Tour event since the Australian Open prior to entering the Monte Carlo Masters. He faced a tough challenge from Jannik Sinner in the first set of their second-round encounter but then cruised to a straight-set victory.

Evans wasn't as easy to dispatch.

Djokovic quickly fell into an 0-3 hole in the opening frame before battling back. He earned a service break to tie the set at four games apiece before Evans responded with a break of his own and then held to claim the set.

In the second set, it was Djokovic's turn to jump out to an early lead. Unfortunately for the 18-time major champion, he couldn't maintain that pace as Evans took seven of the final nine games.

ATP Tour @atptour

Who saw that coming? 👀 Dan Evans beats the World No. 1 to make the last eight in Monte-Carlo! https://t.co/rAbx4gvTVR

Evans said in his post-match interview the result "[hadn't] sunk in yet":

"I couldn't quite believe the last ball went over the net. It nearly didn't. I was pleased, regardless, with how I was playing coming into the match. I felt good. You can never be confident coming into such a big match like that against Novak. It is clearly a big win and I am delighted that I got through, especially being a break down and [having had] little difficulties in the first set. It was really pleasing and I am delighted."

Nadal, on the other hand, was dominant against Dimitrov. The 34-year-old looks locked in on winning a 12 Monte Carlo Masters title.

He finished Thursday with three aces while winning 79 percent of his first-service points and 77 percent of his points on second serve. He also failed to surrender a single break-point opportunity over the course of the match.

Tennis TV @TennisTV

Done in an hour 😳 @RafaelNadal storms into the Monte-Carlo quarter-finals for the 16th consecutive time - beating Dimitrov 6-1 6-1 #RolexMCMasters https://t.co/lA3B0CbFHg

Nadal offered a blunt analysis of his opponent's performance.

"[I am] sorry for him. He played a bad match," he said. "That is the truth. He made a lot of mistakes. I was there. I was doing the right thing, but it is true that today was more his fault than my good tennis."

Dimitrov explained how he's dealing with a "massive tooth problem" that has disrupted his sleep and eating habits, which would account for how far off the pace he was Thursday.