Britain’s Dan Evans ended a four-match losing streak with his first tour-level victory on clay for four years at the Monte Carlo Masters.
Evans has lost a succession of close contests in recent weeks and saw two match points come and go in a long second-set tie-break against 2019 runner-up Dusan Lajovic before prevailing 6-3 6-7 (11-13) 6-2.
He told Amazon Prime Video: “It obviously got a bit ugly in the second set. It was difficult because the last few matches have been tough, especially last week, and I was thinking about that a bit.
“It was tough to swallow the missed smash but I came back and I thought I played well throughout the whole match to be honest. Dusan’s a good clay-court player. It sounds a bit silly but it’s better when I play a clay-courter on this stuff because they’re not used to my game so much.”
Evans has always struggled on clay and he had not won a match on the surface at any level since a qualifying victory over Serbian Lajovic in Rome in May 2019, while his last tour-level win on the dirt was in April 2017 at the Barcelona Open where he reached the last-16.
The match began on Monday but rain washed out play for the day after Evans withstood early pressure to take the opening set.
The 30-year-old from Birmingham missed four match points in losing to Italian teenager Lorenzo Musetti in Cagliari last week and nerves were evident from both men in a dramatic second-set tie-break.
Lajovic led 6-4 but Evans hit back to force two match points only to miss a forehand and a smash – normally one of his most reliable shots.
He saved another three set points but Lajovic took his sixth chance, with Evans making his frustration clear at the missed opportunity.
But it was Lajovic who made a shaky start to the deciding set and Evans capitalized, fighting off more pressure in the final game before clinching his fourth match point and letting out a loud roar.
In the second round he will play Miami Open champion Hubert Hurkacz, who defeated Thomas Fabbiano 6-3 3-6 6-3.