Novak Djokovic, the current world number one, has been knocked out of the ATP Tour at the Monte Carlo Masters by Alejandro Davidovich Fokina.
Davidovich Fokina, ranked number 46 in the world, wasn’t expected to present a serious challenge to Djokovic on his return to competition. However, in a shock result, Djokovic was soundly beaten over three sets in a match that lasted less than three hours.
The ATP competition was the first time Djokovic had played competitively this year, due to his anti-vaccination stance. Having been blocked from playing in both Australia and the US, Djokovic had spoken openly of his impatience to get back to participating in competitive matches.
Despite Djokovic’s desire to return to the court, it was clear that the world number one was not at his best.
Davidovich Fokina took the match 6-3, 6-7, 6-1 in just under three hours. With Djokovic claiming the second set, there were signs that the Serb was about to take things up a gear, but his Spanish opponent comfortably dealt with everything thrown his way.
Djokovic was broken nine times and faced 20 break points, making this match his first defeat in an opener since 2018.
The Monte Carlo tournament has previously been a happy hunting ground for Djokovic, with the Serb winning the title there on two occasions. However, he was lucky not to have crashed out in two sets, with only the inexperience of Davidovich Fokina saving him from a humiliating whitewash.
After comfortably taking the first set, the Spaniard broke Djokovic again at the start of the second set before an injury scare in the seventh game of the set, caused by pointlessly diving for a shot. This minor setback enabled Djokovic to snatch ten consecutive points giving the world number one the advantage.
However, with four unforced errors, Djokovic struggled to hold off his opponent, enabling him to break back and take him to a tie-break. Once again, Djokovic’s quality showed in the tie-break, claiming the set after being 4-2 down - but that was to be his last hurrah for the match.
In the third set, Djokovic was a spent force and was broken three times to lose the set 6-1.
Davidovich Fokina described the win as “so special” and admitted to being a fan of Djokovic’s when growing up. Currently number 8 in the Spanish men’s rankings, Davidovich Fokina said he took his chances to win the match, despite it being “tough mentally” throughout.
In other news from the tournament, British number 2 Dan Evans eased past Benjamin Bonzi in two sets to qualify for the second round.
The Frenchman was roundly beaten in the first set, losing 6-0 to Evans, but the second set proved to be much closer. Bonzi took a 4-1 lead and appeared to be on course to level up the match before Evans launched an impressive comeback to take the set to a tie-break. Evans won the tie-break (7-4) to clinch the match.
Dan Evans will now meet David Goffin in the second round in what is likely to be a stern test, with Goffin reaching the semi-finals of this competition last year.