Novak Djokovic lost his second-round match at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters on Tuesday
Novak Djokovic’s much-awaited return to the ATP tour was cut short following a second-round exit at the 2022 Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters.
Alejandro Davidovich Fokina of Spain played the match of his life to oust the World No. 1 6-3, 6-7(5), 6-1. The two-time Monte-Carlo Open champion was broken nine times – a rarity for the Serb whose serve has proven to be impregnable for the most part.
Davidovich Fokina thus became one of only four players to have broken Djokovic six times or more at an ATP Masters event on clay.
Playing his first match on clay this year, Djokovic failed to match the speed of his opponent, who sprinted to the net time and again to pull off some extraordinary winners. At his post-match press conference, the Serb was quick to congratulate the Spaniard and admitted that he was the better player.
“I would like to congratulate Alejandro. He was the better player. He managed to find a better rhythm I think in the first two sets,” Djokovic said. “I was hanging on the ropes the entire match. I was really chasing the result constantly.”
Fernando Verdasco, Rafael Nadal and Jarkko Nieminen are the other 3 to have broken Novak Djokovic at least 6 times at a Masters tournament on clay
A wry smile from Novak Djokovic that accompanied the post-match handshake made for a poignant scene, as one of the most keenly anticipated comebacks of the year failed to get off to the desired start.
Verdasco – who beat Djokovic in the first encounter between the two in the third round of the 2005 US Open – went on to repeat the feat once again at the Hamburg Masters the following year. He beat Djokovic 6-4, 6-3.
Jarkko Nieminen of Finland failed to capitalize on multiple breaks of serve against Djokovic in the 2007 edition of the Hamburg Masters, finally going down 7-5, 4-6, 6-4.
Djokovic’s fiercest rival Rafael Nadal is the only other player to have broken his serve six times or more at a Masters event on clay – and the only one to have done so twice.
Novak Djokovic at the Monte-Carlo Masters in 2009
The first time was in the final of the 2009 Monte-Carlo Masters, which was a see-saw affair. Nadal won the first set while Djokovic stormed back to dominate the second. But the Spaniard outclassed Djokovic in the third to win his fifth title at Monte-Carlo, with the scoreline reading 6-3, 2-6, 6-1.
Nadal was at it again in the final of the Italian Open 10 years later – making the most of breaking Djokovic’s serve early during the contest.
The Serb, too, broke his opponent’s serve early on, but it was Nadal who finally steadied the ship and held his nerve in the crucial moments to cruise past his long-time rival 6-0, 4-6, 6-1.
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