Thursday in Monte-Carlo

Dan Evans stuns Novak Djokovic

Where else do we start?

British number one Dan Evans who hadn’t won a match on clay before this week in 1448 days but is now through to the final eight of a Masters 1000 for the first time in his career. It was a fascinating match which saw Dan take an early lead before being pegged back but sealed a close first set.

The second set followed a similar pattern but slightly mirrored as Djokovic took an early lead was pulled back level, saw a set point but lost in straight set 4-6 5-7 to the Brit enjoying his best run on clay following just one win in six before this week.

Dan Evans continues his fine Monte-Carlo form with stunning win over Novak Djokovic

Defending champion continues charge!

Fabio Fognini has likewise been in good form, he is of course the defending champion as the tournament did not play last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

We have yet to see the Italian tested in Monte-Carlo towards the bottom half of the draw, Daniil Medvedev’s withdrawal due to a positive Covid-19 test has contributed to the draw opening up but he has gone about his business very well.

There is a smoothness to his game on clay, he never looks under pressure and has shown his great clay court skills not dropping a set this week against Kecmanovic, Thompson and today Krajinovic.

David Goffin through to his third Monte-Carlo quarter final in four years

One of the greatest sights in tennis is to see David Goffin playing well on a clay court. For me he has one of the most beautiful games to watch on the tour. I have always loved watching the Belgian play, he brings control, composure and scintillating shot making to the court.

David was the first through to round two, he begun his week on Sunday against Marin Cilic winning in three sets, a straight sets win over former Roland Garros semi-finalist Marco Cecchinato followed and now a sharp straight sets win over Sascha Zverev for his first top ten win in over a year.

David will be eyeing up a second semi-final in four years as he takes on Britain’s Dan Evans in the final eight knowing that a win gets him closer to being back in the top ten and the title would take him there.

Stefanos and Alejandro to meet on Friday

Stefanos Tsitsipas and Alejandro Davidovich Fokina have impressed me a lot this week.

I said yesterday the intensity of the Greek has impressed me this season and he looks in the groove this week, he seems to be a man on a mission. Cristian Garin is a tough opponent on clay, he provides a challenge but Stefanos’ level was high. Once again we saw him serve well and his forehand crush the defence of the Chilean en route to the final eight.

After struggling for form this year and Covid-19 forcing Alejandro out of a trip to Melbourne it is good to see the Spaniard making noise on the clay courts of Monte-Carlo. The 21 year old has yet to drop a set this week defeating Alex de Minaur, Matteo Berrettini and now the returning Lucas Pouille to make the final eight. Alejandro plays with great flair and his movement behind the court.

Against Stefanos it will be a fun match, the key is staying focused if things aren’t going well. We saw against Hurkacz in Miami things got messy quite quickly and that has been the downside is reacting to problem players this year.

Nadal breezes past Dimitrov

Grigor Dimitrov and Rafael Nadal have had close meetings in Monte-Carlo in the past but this was not one of them as we saw the Spaniard run riot against Dimitrov.

The Bulgarian was not at it, I think Rafa hit 11 winners in the match as he was helped by error after error from Grigor who’s performance was slightly criticised by Nadal…

“Sorry for Grigor. He played a very bad match, that’s the true. I did the right things but this score is his fault.”

It is worth noting that after saying this he did find out that Dimitrov has been suffering from tooth problem and hasn’t been sleeping lately and Nadal did respond in a classy way as usual:

“I didn’t know that. Now I understand a little bit more the things. He was playing too aggressive & little bit out of rhythm. Yeah, sorry for him… He didn’t told me. That shows how good guy he is. Hopefully the situation gets better for him soon.”

Next up for Rafa is Andrey Rublev, who was asked about playing Rafa in Monte-Carlo and had this to say…

Rublev and Ruud win marathon battles!

Andrey Rublev and Casper Ruud have continued their good form and extended their run in Monte-Carlo to at least another day follow big wins against Carreno Busta and Agut respectively.

Casper spent about 7 more minutes on court than Rublev with the Norwegian taking 2 hours 52 minutes to see off Pablo.

Two different matches, but similar stories.

Andrey and Casper won their respective first sets 7-6 but lost the second 5-7. In the third and final set, Andrey was 3-1 40-30 up whilst a few metres away Casper was 1-3 30-40 down but once again rallied to come through to win in three and won six of the last eight games.

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