Novak Djokovic’s first match since February didn’t go as planned in Monte Carlo. At the place where he has a residence, Djokovic was broken NINE times is a loss to Alejandro Davidovich Fokina 6-3, 6-7(5), 6-1.
On a very rusty effort, Djokovic donated 51 unforced errors and his nine times broken were the most his suffered in Monte Carlo.
Djokovic was on the ropes on the second, battling from a break down and then winning the tiebreak. But he couldn’t finish off a 40-15 lead to start the third on his serve and that broke gave the Spaniard the momentum right back.
Davidovich Fokina collects the biggest win of his young career. He can into the match just 4-9 on the year having lost his last three. And he earns his first career Top 5 win.
“This win is so special for me because I grew up watching Nole and I’m a big fan of his,” the 22-year-old told the stunned crowd. “I look at him every tournament, every match. Here in Monte Carlo, full of people, against the No. 1, I enjoyed every moment and I’m so happy.
“I started [well] from the beginning because I knew that Nole [hasn’t played] a lot,” said Davidovich Fokina. “Then I had to focus on every point because I had my chances from the beginning and I just did it.
“When he won the second set it was tough mentally, but I am working so hard to be more focused. It doesn’t matter if I lost the second set or I lost the first set. I have to be prepared for the war.”
Djokovic has now played just four matches in four months in what has been a dreadful 2022 both on and off the court. And he admits he ran out of gas in the end.
“I always believed that I could come back and win the match, and I stayed there even though a lot of things were against me in terms of how I felt on the court. Game-wise, physically I was just far from my best,” Djokovic said. “So of course in those types of conditions and circumstances, then you have to really work two times more than you normally would. And again, I played a clay-court specialist. He had a match already on centre court a few days ago.
“I didn’t like the way I felt physically in the third. I just ran out of the gas completely,” he said. “Just couldn’t really stay in the rally with him. I mean, if you can’t stay in the rally, not feeling your legs on the clay, it’s mission impossible.”
While Djokovic fell, defending champion Stefanos Tsitsipas advanced with a 6-3, 6-0 over another Monte Carlo winner, Fabio Fognini.
“Great things out there. I was able to really perform close to my best and deliver the result that I did,” said the Greek. “Nevertheless, I was still able to generate some good pace and create some good angles which gave me a lot of points.”
Grigor Dimitrov knocked out former finalist Dusan Lajovic 4-6, 6-3, 6-2. Taylor Fritz, David Goffin, Holger Rune and the Lorenzo’s, Musetti and Sonego advanced.
Tomorrow, all eyes will be on teen Carlos Alcaraz who will make his debut against American Sebastian Korda. Casper Ruud will take on Rune and Alexander Zverev opens play as well along with 2021 finalist Andrey Rublev.
WEDNESDAY MONTE CARLO SCHEDULE
COURT RAINIER III start 11:00 a.m.
 C. Alcaraz (ESP) vs. S. Korda (USA)
 C. Ruud (NOR) vs. [Q] Holger Rune (DEN)
 F. Auger-Aliassime (CAN) vs. L. Musetti (ITA)
 A. Zverev (GER) vs. F. Delbonis (ARG)
COURT DES PRINCES start 11:00 a.m.
 C. Norrie (GBR) vs. A. Ramos-Vinolas (ESP)
 T. Fritz (USA) vs. M. Cilic (CRO)
 J. Sinner (ITA) vs. [Q] E. Ruusuvuori
 A. Rublev vs. A. de Minaur (AUS)
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