Novak Djokovic scored a smooth and convincing victory on his debut on clay in Madrid. The world number 1 folded Gael Monfils for the 18th time with a score of 6-3 6-2 in just under an hour and a half of play. Although still far from the best condition, the Serbian champion seemed to be growing compared to the latest releases.
2022 has given Nole very few joys so far, thanks to her choice not to get vaccinated against the Coronavirus. In addition to not being able to defend the title at the Australian Open, the 34-year-old from Belgrade also suffered serious damage to his image.
Suffice it to say that the Mutua Madrid Open is only the fourth tournament that 'Djoker' has played this year. The 20-time Grand Slam champion's goal is to arrive in top form at Roland Garros, where he will be called upon to defend the title he won in 2021.
The next obstacle in his path will be Andy Murray, Denis Shapovalov's executioner late in the evening. Interviewed by L’Equipe, Gael Monfils spent fine words for Djokovic.
Monfils on Novak Djokovic
"It's hard for me to judge him well.
Novak Djokovic does things that are less pleasant for me. I make him play well. He pushes you to put a little more, to take the ball a bit earlier, to hit a little harder," Monfils said. "He's been playing less well since he came back because he [hasn't won a title], but he's still playing very well!" A disappointed Gael Monfils pointed out that he played a very average match in contrast to the 20-time Grand Slam champion's "simple" and "effective" game that assured him at least another week atop the ATP rankings in the process.
"So when we say it's takeable... It's solid! You still have to play a big game to beat him. The guy remains World no. 1. He has fewer wins than usual, but he still has a lot," Monfils said. "I didn't make the final in Belgrade, [he did].
He is playing better and better. Today, it was simple, effective. Me, I played an average match." Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray have one of the most notable rivalries currently in men’s tennis. Their first meeting was in 2006 at the Madrid Open, with the Serb prevailing in three sets.
Subsequently, they faced each other in some big tournaments. Further, the duo is one of the few who have played against each other in the finals of all the four Grand Slam tournaments.