This week in Monte-Carlo we’ve been delighted by the beautiful tennis of Britain’s Dan Evans on a surface he’s not usually enjoyed his time on.
Dan Evans before this last week hadn’t won a tour match on clay for over four years and in his career had just won four singles matches on the surface in his career. This week he won four matches to make it to the semi-finals in Monte-Carlo and he and Neal Skupski also were once again runners-up at in the doubles final.
The level of performance through his week in the singles in Monte-Carlo was top notch, unfortunately for Dan I did feel coming into the match that Stefanos had his card marked. Despite it being a different surface I did feel like the Brit’s game including that slice into the backhand suited Tsitsipas who dealt well with it in Dubai last year winning 6-2 6-3 against Dan.
Because Dan has not had clay court success, a lot of questions have been this week, what has he done differently? I don’t think he has changed much at all.
I take us back to Dubai last year again, Dan was in fine form that week and bet the Russian 6-2 7-5 on that occasion.
The big problem for Rublev was his backhand corner and it played into Dan’s game plan.
Throughout the match Dan was a pest getting that backhand into play, taking all the pace off the ball with no pace on it at all leaving Rublev without much to work with.
Dan can then just pick the forehand into the open space and strike against the Russian.
This was on a hard court but he did it on the clay so well as well, if anything the surface helped him execute this better. I do think Dan has good feel on the baseline or at the net so it is surprising that we haven’t seen more success on clay but he played his game efficiently well this week.
Against Djokovic earlier on in the week we saw the backhand slice wreak havoc. You don’t have to wreak havoc on any opponent by just hitting the ball hard but with purpose and composure comes greater results.
Against Novak Djokovic we saw this heavy hitting of the backhand slice with over 70% of his backhands in the first set camping into a nothing area for Djokovic and he continued to play to that theme he has had success with in the past on hard courts and now on clay this week.
Can we expect to see more big results from Dan on clay? I see why he can’t be a player who has a good season on clay, he has shown throughout the week he has it and can bring his weapons to the surface so why not? This week he did defeat:
d. Dusan Lajovic – 6-3 6-7 6-2
d. Hubert Hurkacz – 6-4 6-1
d. Novak Djokovic – 6-4 7-5
d. David Goffin – 5-7 6-3 6-4