Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal did not play between the last year's Australian Open and Monte Carlo. Two great rivals returned to action in the Principality and stood as the favorites. Former champions were seen to battle in another Monte Carlo final.
Still, they were far from that level, winning three matches combined and losing before the semi-final at the same ATP event only for the seventh time since 2013 and the first since the ATP Finals 2019! Nadal and Djokovic left the door open for the young guns, with Stefanos Tsitsipas beating Andrey Rublev in the title clash for the first Masters 1000 trophy.
Speaking about that short Monte Carlo campaign, Novak said that he and Rafa still wanted to maintain a high level and challenge the upcoming youngsters. Also, the Serb stated that they could not win every match and tournament, calling that an impossible task.
The Serb suffered the season's first loss to Daniel Evans, who beat him 6-4, 7-5 despite having four ATP wins on clay before Monte Carlo! Rafa went further and scored two victories against Federico Delbonis and Grigor Dimitrov to enter the quarter-final.
Nadal faced Andrey Rublev in a battle for the semis and experienced a 6-2, 4-6, 6-2.
Novak Djokovic explained Rafael Nadal's and his early Monte Carlo exit.
"We probably made many people think that we can play perfect tennis every week for the rest of our lives, but that's impossible.
I do not think there is anything strange; it's just a bad week. If our opponents have a very good day, they can beat us; it's simple as that. Rafa, myself and Roger have been very successful and dominant in the past 15 years.
You have a new generation of tennis players coming up, and we have to adapt ourselves. We have to understand how to improve, get better, and adjust our game to this new group of players. I'm not too concerned, especially when it comes to Rafa on clay.
I do not think one or two matches or two weeks will change how he plays on clay in the upcoming tournaments. But obviously, it's interesting for our sport to see us losing to some new players, making things a bit more interesting for tennis fans.
Obviously, we do not want to lose; I think we both want to keep that level of performance and quality of tennis high for as long as we possibly can," Novak Djokovic said.