Novak Djokovic opens clay-court season with upset loss to Alejandro Davidovich Fokina at Monte Carlo Masters

MONACO — Novak Djokovic opened his clay-court season with a shocking loss to Alejandro Davidovich Fokina on the Monte Carlo Masters on Tuesday.

Davidovich Fokina surprised the top-ranked Serb 6-3, 6-7 (5), 6-1 within the second spherical at hand Djokovic one other setback as he tries to maneuver on from the controversy surrounding his refusal to get vaccinated towards COVID-19.

It makes for uncommon back-to-back losses for Djokovic, who had not performed since being eradicated within the quarterfinals of the Dubai Tennis Championships in February — his solely earlier match this 12 months after he was barred from enjoying on the Australian Open.

Djokovic struggled from the beginning because the Forty sixth-ranked Spaniard broke him early to tug forward 4-1 earlier than one other break handed him the primary set. Davidovich Fokina stored up the strain and led 3-0 within the second earlier than Djokovic clawed again. However the Serb continued to battle on his serve and was damaged 3 times within the decider.

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

The Serb mentioned he was too exhausted to place up a combat within the third set.

“I collapsed,” Djokovic mentioned. “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.”

Djokovic had crushed Davidovich Fokina, 22, in straight units twice final 12 months, in Rome and on the Tokyo Olympics.

Djokovic couldn’t defend his Australian Open title in January after he was deported from the nation for not being vaccinated. He needed to skip tournaments in Indian Wells, California, and Miami as a result of he could not journey to america for a similar cause.

The authorities in France and Monaco lifted most COVID-19 restrictions final month, permitting individuals who aren’t vaccinated into the nation and again into eating places, sports activities arenas and different venues.

Meaning Djokovic will be capable of play on the French Open, which stays 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 mentioned. “I have to accept defeat and keep working … and hopefully build my form for Roland Garros.”

The French Open begins on Could 22 in Paris.

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