Novak Djokovic expects nothing in Monte Carlo, and no one can blame him!

Novak Djokovic was 8-7 in previous years in Monte Carlo

by Jovica Ilic
Novak Djokovic expects nothing in Monte Carlo, and no one can blame him!
© Julian Finney / Staff - Getty Images Sport

Novak Djokovic competes at this week's Monte Carlo Masters without high expectations! World no. 1 claimed two Monte Carlo titles over Rafael Nadal in 2023 and 2015. However, his results have not been good since 2016, winning eight of the previous 15 encounters and failing to notch a semi-final.

Novak wants to use Monte Carlo as his starting base for Roland Garros, hoping to reach his A-game before the season's second Major event. Djokovic played well in the Principality nine years ago, ousting Nadal in straight sets in the semi-final and overpowering Tomas Berdych in the title clash for his second crown at the home event.

Novak Djokovic, Monte Carlo 2023© Clive Brunskill / Staff - Getty Images Sport

It remains Novak's last notable result at this event, and his issues started in 2016 following a shocking 6-4, 2-6, 6-4 loss to Jiri Vesely in the second round.

Jiri overpowered Novak behind the second set and clinched his three breaks at crucial moments, celebrating his career-best win. Novak reached the Monte Carlo quarter-final in 2017, facing David Goffin and falling 6-2, 3-6, 7-5 after two hours and 37 minutes.

Djokovic led 4-2 in the decider but could not bring the victory home, experiencing his first loss to Goffin. Thus, Novak extended his poor streak in the opening four months of the season, scoring only seven wins in Melbourne, Acapulco, Indian Wells and Monte Carlo.

They grabbed 105 points each, and David prevailed with a stronger performance in the closing stages. The Belgian created 17 break chances and seized four, doing enough to emerge at the top. Novak played aggressive tennis and landed 37 winners and 38 unforced errors.

He ousted David in the shortest rallies up to four strokes, and the Belgian responded in the more advanced ones. Djokovic defended five break points in the fifth game of the final set, moving 4-2 up and closer to the finish line.

However, Goffin broke back in game eight with a backhand down the line winner, leveling the score at 4-4. Djokovic served to stay in the match at 5-6 and faced five match points. David seized the last after forcing Novak's mistake, celebrating a career-best win and moving into the semi-final.

Novak Djokovic, Monte Carlo 2022© Julian Finney / Staff - Getty Images Sport

Novak Djokovic has struggled in Monte Carlo since 2016.

Djokovic lost in the third round in 2018, facing Dominic Thiem and falling 6-7, 6-2, 6-3 after two and a half hours of a massive battle.

Novak grabbed one break and fought well until he had the energy in his body. He made a comeback in the opener before slowing down a bit, suffering five breaks and hitting the exit door. Thiem landed 36 winners and 33 unforced errors, welcoming Djokovic's 40 mistakes and beating former world no.

1 in the mid-range and most extended exchanges. They stayed neck and neck in the opening half of the final set, but Novak could not remain in touch physically after that despite leading 40-15 in the seventh game. Dominic grabbed a break, held after an ace in the next one and sealed the deal with another return game on his tally at 5-3.

Novak Djokovic, Monte Carlo 2021© Alexander Hassenstein / Staff - Getty Images Sport

The Serb reached the quarter-final again in 2019, facing Daniil Medvedev in a battle for a place in the last four. The Russian scored a notable 6-3, 4-6, 6-2 win after two hours and 20 minutes, embracing his first notable result on the slowest surface and beating Djokovic for the first time.

Daniil landed 25 winners and 21 unforced errors, welcoming almost 50 unforced mistakes from Novak and sealing the deal with a reliable performance in the decider. Medvedev served at 49% and faced only four break points, losing serve two times and delivering five return games that sent him over the top.

Returning to Monte Carlo in 2021, Novak experienced another tough loss, this time to Daniel Evans! The Briton stunned world no. 1 6-4, 7-5 in two hours and six minutes, with the Serb failing to win a set in Monte Carlo for the first time since 2014 and his loss to Roger Federer.

Djokovic lost his first match of the season, getting broken five times and experiencing another early loss in the Principality. Novak erased the deficit in the opener before losing serve again in game nine. Daniel served for the set at 5-4 and clinched the third set point, moving in front after 56 minutes.

Novak built a 3-0 advantage in the second set but could not maintain it. Evans landed a forehand down the line winner in the fifth game, pulling the break back and producing vital holds in games eight and ten, fending off a set point at 4-5.

Novak Djokovic, Monte Carlo 2019© Clive Brunskill / Staff - Getty Images Sport

The Briton grabbed a break in game 11 and sealed the deal with a forehand winner on his serve at 6-5, ending the Serb's campaign.

Things became even worse for Djokovic in 2022, losing to Alejandro Davidovich Fokina 6-3, 6-7, 6-1 in two hours and 54 minutes in the second round, suffering his earliest Masters 1000 loss since Miami 2018. Novak sprayed 50 unforced errors in windy conditions, while Alejandro tamed his strokes nicely for a 37-34 ratio.

The Spaniard lost serve four times and secured nine breaks from 20 opportunities, controlling the scoreboard in sets one and three and moving over the top. A year ago, Djokovic faced Lorenzo Musetti in the third round and experienced a 4-6, 7-5, 6-4 defeat after nearly three hours, extending his Monte Carlo misery!

Novak struggled with the pain in his right hand, landing only six service winners and losing serve eight times. Musetti overcame a massive 6-4, 4-2 deficit, fighting hard and sealing the deal after a rain delay. Djokovic will try to embrace a better run this week, playing well against Roman Safiullin in the second round and sailing into the last 16.

Novak Djokovic, Monte Carlo 2018© Julian Finney / Staff - Getty Images Sport

"My expectations in Monte Carlo are not very high after how I have played here in the previous five or six years. I hope to improve that this week.

The most important thing for me is to build my game and reach the peak ahead of Roland Garros. I skipped Miami and had more time to practice on clay and adjust my game; let's see how it goes. My two children were born in Monte Carlo; I love playing here, considering it a home," Novak Djokovic said.

Novak Djokovic Monte Carlo