Novak Djokovic loses clay-court opener at Monte Carlo Masters

Novak Djokovic loses clay-court opener at Monte Carlo Masters

Novak Djokovic loses clay-court opener at Monte Carlo Masters

Credits: AFP


World number one Novak Djokovic lost to Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in his opening match at the Monte Carlo Masters.

In the second round, Davidovich Fokina surprised top-ranked Novak Djokovic 6-3, 6-7 (5), 6-1, handing him another blow as he tries to move on from the controversy surrounding his refusal to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

Djokovic has been losing back-to-back, which is rare. He played his last game at the Dubai Tennis Championships in February. This is his only tournament in 2022 after he was forced to withdraw from the Australian Open.

Djokovic struggled from the beginning after the 46th-ranked Spaniard gave him hard times from the start by breaking him to go up 4-1 before clinching the first set with another break.

Davidovich Fokina kept up the pressure in the second set, leading 3-0 before Djokovic fought back. However, the Serb’s serve proved to be a problem, and he was broken three more in the decider.


“He was the better player,” Djokovic said. “I was hanging on the ropes the entire match.”

World number one said he was not in the form during the third set.

“I collapsed,” Djokovic said. “I just ran out of gas completely … If you can’t stay in the rally, not feeling your legs on the clay, it’s mission impossible.”

Last year, the Serbian player has defeated young Davidovich Fokina twice in Rome and the Tokyo Olympics.

He failed to defend his Australian Open title last year after he was deported from Australia for not being vaccinated.

He missed the tournaments in Indian Wells, California, and Miami for the same reasons.


Last month, authorities in France and Monaco relaxed most COVID-19 restrictions, allowing unvaccinated persons to enter the country and return to restaurants, sports arenas, and other public places.

That means Djokovic will be able to play at the French Open, which remains his “big goal of the clay season.”

“I knew that it’s going to take some time for me to really feel my best on the clay,” Djokovic said. “I have to accept defeat and keep working … and hopefully build my form for Roland Garros.”

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