World no. 1 Novak Djokovic will not defend the title at the next week's Madrid Masters 1000 event, deciding to skip the season's third Masters 1000 event. After the Belgrade semi-final loss to Aslan Karatsev, Novak said he wouldn't know much about playing Madrid, remaining focused on Major tournaments and targeting Roland Garros as his next big goal.
The Serb battled for three and a half hours with the Russian in front of the home fans, struggling physically and deciding to change his schedule and compete in Rome, Belgrade 2 and Roland Garros. The Madrid Open tournament director Feliciano Lopez said that the news about Djokovic's withdrawal came as a surprise, although he understands that the players have to follow their schedules.
Novak has won 12 out of 14 matches in 2021, making a perfect start in Melbourne and winning the ninth Australian Open crown. Dealing with an abdominal injury since the third round and the match against Taylor Fritz, Djokovic somehow finished with the trophy in his hands, taking a break in the next couple of weeks and withdrawing from the Miami Open.
Returning to the court in Monte Carlo, the Serb suffered an unexpected third-round loss to Daniel Evans in straight sets before flying home to Belgrade, leading the field at the first edition of the Serbia Open since 2012.
Feliciano Lopez shared his thoughts about Novak Djokovic's Madrid Open withdrawal.
After two commanding wins over Soonwoo Kwon and Miomir Kecmanovic, Novak faced a much more challenging opponent in the battle for the final, losing to Aslan Karatsev in three grueling sets after wasting jaw-dropping 23 break chances!
Not feeling good on the court and saying he needs more rest, Djokovic opted to skip Madrid and get back to action a week later in Rome. Djokovic is a three-time Madrid Open champion, lifting trophies in 2011, 2016 and 2019, in the last edition of this event that had to close the gates at Caja Magica in 2020 due to the pandemic.
In the title match two years ago, Novak took down Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-3, 6-4 in an hour and 32 minutes, controlling the pace from start to finish to conquer Masters 1000 crown number 33 and join Rafael Nadal at the top of the list.
Stefanos reached only one deuce and never created chances on the return. On the other hand, Novak broke the youngster once in each set to bring the match home in style and conquer the third Madrid crown, the first since 2016.
"We expected Roger Federer to withdraw, but Novak Djokovic's decision to skip Madrid is a little more surprising. Still, the calendar is what it is, and you have to accept that there will be some player who does not want to come," Feliciano Lopez said.