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2022 just keeps going from bad to worse for Novak Djokovic.
The world number one lost his opening match at the Monte Carlo Masters in just his second tournament of the year following a highly publicised Covid-19 vaccine drama in Australia in January.
The world number one went down 6-3, 6-7 (5-7), 6-1 to 46th-ranked Spaniard Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in the second round after dropping his serve nine times in a rusty performance.
In the most staggering loss of his professional career, it's the first time ever Djokovic has been broken nine times in a best-of-three match.
"I was hanging on the ropes the entire match. I was really chasing the result constantly," Djokovic said post-match, whose only other appearance in 2022 was in Dubai in February where he played just three matches.
"I didn't like the way I felt physically in the third (set). I just ran out of gas completely. I just couldn't really stay in the rally with him. If you can't stay in the rally, not feeling your legs on the clay, it's mission impossible."
Alejandro Davidovich Fokina gets the biggest win of his life, beating the world number one Novak Djokovic 6-3, 6-7(5), 6-1 to reach the 3rd round in Monte Carlo.
Djokovic with rare back to back losses (only time he lost back to back matches in 2021 was in Tokyo...) pic.twitter.com/PIxCHBQTJm
- José Morgado (@josemorgado) April 12, 2022
Djokovic admitted that the first four months of 2022 had been "difficult, mentally and emotionally" after he was sensationally deported from Australia ahead of the Australian Open due to his vaccine status and the uncertainty surrounding it.
The result was a huge turnaround for Fokina, who had lost both previous meetings to Djokovic in straight sets, including at the Tokyo Olympics last year, but he raced into a 4-1 lead and took the first set.
The loss marks the first time Djokovic has lost his opening match at a tournament since falling to Martin Klizan at Barcelona four years ago.
"I expected this match to be a really tough match, a physical battle, and that's what it was. Unfortunately, I'm on the shorter end of the stick, and my week ends here.
#45 Alejandro Davidovich Fokina beats #1 Novak Djokovic 6-3, 6-7(5), 6-1 in Djokovic's first match at the Monte Carlo Masters.
#1 Djokovic now has a record of 2-2 on the year.
Strange times in men's tennis.
- Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) April 12, 2022
"I have never played very well in the opening tournaments of the clay season. But it's okay. Obviously, it is what it is. I have to accept the defeat and keep working."
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