Novak Djokovic was eliminated by Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in the second round of the Masters 1000 in Monte Carlo, proving he is still very far from top form. Before the Monegasque tournament, the world number 1 had played three official matches in as many months (all on the hard courts of Dubai).
The Serbian champion paid dearly for his choice not to vaccinate against the Coronavirus, not having been able to defend the title at the Australian Open. As if that weren't enough, the 34-year-old from Belgrade had to helplessly watch Rafael Nadal's extraordinary feat in Melbourne.
The Spaniard has overtaken Roger Federer and Djokovic himself in the all-time rankings of the Majors, as well as becoming the fourth man in history to have won all the Grand Slams at least twice. Due to strict US regulations, Nole was not even able to participate in the Masters 1000 in Indian Wells and Miami.
'Djoker' will play the Serbia Open next week, the last test before the Masters 1000 in Madrid and Rome. On the Tennis Channel microphones, Andy Roddick and Paul Annacone analyzed Novak's misstep in the Principality.
Andy Roddick talks about Djokovic
"You can't fake tournament reps," Roddick said. "You can play five hours in practice, but when you get the adrenaline and you get the nerves, it's its own kind of exhaust mechanism and when you haven't dealt with that recently - I mean Novak Djokovic's very short on matches since the US Open last year.
So, it was a big ask. And what Novak was hoping to do was turn it around, get through, survive this match and then find his game later on. Credit to Davidovich Fokina. Also, when you're coming back and you're Novak, the last thing you want is really blustery conditions, right? Where your feet aren't quite under you," Roddick added.
"I don't think Novak moved that well today, I felt like he was lunging a lot more than he normally did. The switch of directions wasn't quite there. Not a big thing to worry about, all to be expected. But expect him to maybe sneak in another tournament or two, play a little bit of a heavier schedule until he finds that footing.
Obviously with the goal being Roland Garros." Though Novak didn’t have a long run in Monte Carlo. The 20 times Grand Slam champion has taken notes from the match and is hoping to perform better at home ground. As he said, “I’m going to look with my team into reasons why that was the case and go back to the drawing board and hopefully next week will be better in Belgrade”.