British interest in the Monte Carlo Masters ended on Tuesday as both Dan Evans and Jack Draper were knocked out, following first-round exits for Andy Murray and Cam Norrie on Monday.
British No 2 Evans fell at the first hurdle, beaten 2-6 6-2 6-3 by qualifier Ilya Ivashka in their first-round tie, while Draper was defeated 6-3 6-7 (3-7) 7-5 by Polish 10th seed Hubert Hurkacz in the second round.
Evans took the first set comfortably but was unable to sustain his form as Ivashka battled back in fine style to book a second-round meeting with his brother-in-law Karen Khachanov.
Evans got off to the best possible start when he broke Ivashka in the opening game, and he produced some accomplished tennis to race into a 4-0 lead with minimal fuss before claiming the first set 6-2.
Ivashka rallied to win the first game of the second set on serve and then broke at the second time of asking to go 3-1 ahead. Evans held to love in the sixth game of the set, but passed up a break point in the next to trail 5-2 and was swiftly made to pay as the match was squared.
The third set went with serve – Evans saw another break point elude him at 3-3 – before Ivashka made the decisive move in the eighth game and ultimately eased across the finishing line.
Evans’ compatriot Draper suffered a second-round exit despite a battling effort against Hurcakz. The first set got away from the 21-year-old British No 4, but he battled his way back into the match courtesy of a second set tie-break.
Draper trailed 4-2 in the third set, but broke back immediately and leveled at 4-4. Although he worked himself to within a point of a deciding tie-break at 5-6 and 40-0 up on his serve, Hurkacz then won five points on the trot to edge through.
Djokovic wins on Monte Carlo return after month off
Novak Djokovic briefly ran into a spot of bother as he fought his way into the third round with a 7-6 (7-5) 6-2 victory over qualifier Ivan Gakhov.
Djokovic, who had not played since early March when he reached the semi-finals in Dubai after being forced to skip the tournaments in Indian Wells and Miami because of his Covid-19 unvaccinated status, struggled to find his range on the Monte Carlo clay before ultimately prevailing in straight sets.
Gakhov went for his shots and claimed the first service break to lead 4-3, only for the Serbian to break right back and take the opening set by winning the tiebreak 7-5.
Djokovic was then businesslike in the second set, leaving no chance of a comeback for his opponent. The two-time French Open champion, who suffered a first-round exit here last year, will next face Lorenzo Musetti or the 16th seed’s Italian compatriot Luca Nardi.
Defending champion Stefanos Tsitsipas joins Djokovic in the third round after opponent Benjamin Bonzi was forced to retire with a wrist injury at 4-1 down in the opening set.
German Alexander Zverev, who suffered a serious ankle injury in his French Open semi-final clash against Rafael Nadal last year, was back on the clay courts with a 3-6 6-2 6-4 first-round win over Kazakhstan’s Alexander Bublik.
Spain’s Nadal, who has triumphed a record 11 times at the Monte Carlo Country Club, is absent after failing to recover from a hip injury that has kept him sidelined since the Australian Open.
His compatriot Carlos Alcaraz is also missing the tournament with hand and back problems.