'Having played little will give us a Novak Djokovic...', says expert



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'Having played little will give us a Novak Djokovic...', says expert

The time has come for the main draw action to begin at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters and day 1 brings a varied and attractive menu: the Spanish Alejandro Davidovich Fokina, quarterfinalist in 2021, debuts against the American Marcos Girón and if he advances he would be the opponent of no.1 Novak Djokovic in R2.

Davidovich Fokina will take the court to kick off the main draw matches on Court Rainier III in what will be the first ATP Head2Head meeting between the two. The Spaniard goes if he feels good in the Principality: he defeated Alex de Minaur, Berrettini and Lucas Pouille en route to the quarter-finals last season.

In an attempt to repeat that performance, making his ATP Masters 1000 Quarterfinal debut, he will first look to snap a three-match losing streak against Giron. If he pulls it off, he will have a massive challenge against Djokovic.

Meanwhile, former World No. 3 Grigor Dimitrov will also see action against 15th seed Nikoloz Basilashvili, and 2019 finalist Dusan Lajovic, as well as the final qualifying round at the third ATP Masters 1000 event of the season.

Former semi-finalist Dimitrov will start his campaign on Sunday when he takes on Basilashvili on the Rainier III court in Monte-Carlo. Dimitrov has a strong track record on the clay of Monaco, as he reached the quarterfinals in 2018 and advanced to the quarterfinals in 2013 and 2015.

The Bulgarian, who is making his ninth Monte-Carlo appearance, has scored wins against 2014 champion Stan Wawrinka, former World No. 7 Fernando Verdasco and World No. 6 Matteo Berrettini at the tournament over the years and arrive this week with confidence, after advancing to the quarterfinals in Indian Wells last month.

Novak Djokovic is all set to make his return

While Rafael Nadal's recent success in Australia will spur his great rival Novak Djokovic on, the Serb's brief hiatus from competitive tennis could prove detrimental to his game in the immediate future, according to his biographer Simone Eterno.

"Psychologically I don't think it's a problem, tennis inactivity will be. Returning to the field after a long stop and being immediately competitive at a high level is difficult even if your name is Djokovic," Eterno said.

"From a mental point of view, I have no doubts, on the contrary, I believe that Nadal's victory in Australia and the Majorcan's streak of success on hard court has recharged Djokovic's thirst for records even more.

Instead, I have doubts on the tennis level: having played little will give us a Djokovic to test and maybe vulnerable, as we saw him in Dubai. So his run to the Grand Slam record and the double over Nadal may not be that easy," he added.