Djokovic Monte Carlo Loss – Surprise or Expected?

Tennis fans all over the world were excited about Djokovic’s return to the tour in Monte Carlo. But with so much time away, questions were obviously firing in from all angles. Would he still be as good as before? Would he be in peak physical condition? And would he still have that killer instinct that has served him so well throughout his career? Of course, these are perfectly legitimate questions. 

Novak Djokovic

But as we have all witnessed, Djokovic fell at the first hurdle to Davidovich-Fokina. Throughout the match, Djokovic looked somewhat out of sorts. He didn’t seem comfortable with his shot-making, he didn’t look as ‘at ease’ as he usually does, and of course, the result speaks for itself. This was a match that many expected him to win, despite his obvious lack of match play. And this then begs another question – is this really a surprise exit, or was this written in the stars?

In my opinion, it’s not a surprise exit at all. And I’ve discussed this in detail below.

Barely Competed This Year

Let me get started with the most obvious reason for my lack of surprise with the result. In 2022, Djokovic has competed in just two tournaments – Dubai and Monte Carlo. In Dubai, he endured a surprise shock to Vesely, who was playing out of his skin in that event. And now, he has taken an early exit in Monte Carlo. 

At the highest level, matchplay is everything. So his lack of matches will obviously hinder the level he can compete at, at least for now. When we witness prime Djokovic, he is usually competing in top-level events week in and week out. And in 2022, this is obviously something that has been missing for him.

Tough Opening Match

Many people are branding his loss to Davidovich-Fokina as a massive upset. In my opinion, this isn’t actually as much of an upset as tennis fans seem to think. Davidovich-Fokina is a fantastic clay-court player. He hits heavy, he is incredibly agile around the court, and he is a heck of a competitor. This was proven by how many times he dived for the ball during his match against Djokovic! Of course, to beat this kind of player you have to be playing at a high level.

And given that I watched the match, I feel that Djokovic did well to even take this one to a third set. Let’s not forget that Davidovich-Fokina has also been a quarter-finalist at the French Open back in 2021.

Clay Isn’t His Best Surface

The final point I’d like to make here is that clay really isn’t his best or preferred surface. Sure, he is still a fantastic clay-court player, as proven by his record and titles on this surface. However, when you haven’t played or competed very much, I’m sure that clay court would have been his last choice when returning to Masters 1000 tennis. If he made his return on a hard court, things might have been different. But hey – that’s something we’ll never know!

About the author

Gavin Davison

Gavin is a full-time copywriter based in the United Kingdom. He has previously played NCAA college tennis in the USA and competed in many international events throughout his younger days. He still plays competitively and follows both the ATP & WTA Tours closely. His favourite player is Roger Federer.

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