British No 1 Dan Evans cited a disrespectful late arrival from Novak Djokovic as the spur that prompted the best – and most unlikely – victory of his career on Thursday in Monte Carlo. This was a real turn-up. Beating Djokovic had appeared to be an impossible dream for Evans. He has never warmed to clay, nor had he previously managed a victory against anyone ranked higher than No 7 in the world. But Djokovic – who has stood atop the rankings for 14 months – came out strangely flat on a blustery, cold and drizzly day in the Riviera. And Evans was contrastingly brilliant, especially in the large number of stylish drop-shots that he feathered just over the net. The result was a pot pourri of remarkable statistics. This was Djokovic’s first defeat of 2021, after 10 straight victories. It was Evans’ first visit to the quarter-final of a Masters 1000 event (where he will play 11th seed David Goffin on Friday). Most notably, it was the first time that a British man had beaten a world No 1 on clay. A perceived snub in the build-up had helped Evans find his focus. “He kept me waiting at the start of the match in the changing rooms a little bit,” Evans told Amazon Prime after his 6-4, 7-5 win. “It was a little annoying, so I was ready to go from that – it got me a little extra fired up. “That’s why we roll the balls out,” Evans added. “It’s one against one and you’ve gotta see who wins and that’s what I was telling myself. He gave me some cheap ones today which he never normally does, so I was a little lucky there but I am just really happy with coming through.” The same interview finished with a moment of banter as Amazon’s studio pundit Tim Henman asked Evans – tongue firmly in cheek – whether clay was now his favourite surface. “Is golf your favourite sport?” replied Evans, without addressing the question.