Novak Djokovic made a losing return to the tour as he went down 3-6, 7-6, 1-6 to Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in the second round of the Monte Carlo Masters.
Fokina had won just seven games across two previous meetings with Djokovic coming into the tournament, but the World No. 46 banished those demons in style on Tuesday to score his biggest career win.
“I would like to congratulate Alejandro. He was the better player. He managed to find a better rhythm I think in the first two sets,” Djokovic said.
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“I was hanging on the ropes the entire match. I was really chasing the result constantly.”
This was only the second tournament for Djokovic in 2022. He had competed at the Dubai Open in February, and lost in the quarterfinals.
Djokovic has not advanced past the quarter-finals in Monte Carlo since 2015, the last time he won the title. The slow start to his clay-court season did not surprise the Serbian.
What concerned the World No. 1 most was how he felt in the deciding set, in which he won just 45 per cent of his service points.
“I didn’t like the way I felt physically in the third. I just ran out of the gas completely,” Djokovic said.
“Just couldn’t really stay in the rally with him. I mean, if you can’t stay in the rally, not feeling your legs on the clay, it’s mission impossible.”
Seb Korda stuns Carlos Alcaraz
Sebastian Korda earned the biggest win of his season on Wednesday, as he edged past Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz 7-6(2), 6-7(5), 6-3 to reach the third round.
World No. 11 Alcaraz arrived in Monte-Carlo in red-hot form, having captured his maiden ATP Masters 1000 crown in Miami.
However, the 18-year-old, who was making his debut at the clay-court event, was unable to cope with Korda’s heavy-hitting, variety and the windy conditions on Court Rainier III.
The American rallied from a break down in the third set with the wind leading to errors and few long rallies as the match went on.
With his three-hour, one-minute victory, Korda gained revenge for his defeat to Alcaraz at the 2021 Next Gen ATP Finals, where the Spaniard triumphed in the championship match.