Montecarlo lost this Tuesday, and at the first change, to the number one in the world, Novak Djokovic, who returned to the tracks after being unemployed for more than a month due to his perennial refusal to be vaccinated. A Spaniard, Alejandro Davidovich, in a state of grace and made a croquette from so much battering on the clay of Rainier III, beat the Serb in three sets: 6-4, 6-7 (5) and 6-1 in 2h54. In his two previous matches, both in 2021 (Rome and the Tokyo Games) he had only been able to win seven games. That changed on the shores of the Mediterranean, in a place that the Malaga native, quarterfinalist in 2021 after beating Matteo Berrettini, is good at, at that time eighth in the world. Greater still, the greatest of his career (second against a top-10), was this victory against one of the legendary stars of tennis that will allow him be measured on Thursday in the round of 16 with Goffin or Evans. On the horizon, a possible Spanish derby in the quarterfinals against Carlos Alcaraz.
“It’s a very special win, because I grew up watching Nole, who was like my biggest fan, I mean, I was his biggest fan. I followed him in every tournament and match. I have enjoyed every moment here in front of all these people and in front of number one. I am very happy”, he expressed with a part of Foki humor, as he is nicknamed by his second surnameafter breaking his idol’s serve nine times.
Stunning the Monaco establishment 🤴
— Tennis TV (@TennisTV) April 12, 2022
Rarely, very rarely do you see Djokovic go home on the day of his tournament debut. It’s been almost four years since it happened to him. It was at Barcelona Banc Sabadell in 2018, when he lost to the Slovakian Klizan (140th) 6-2, 1-6, 6-3. In Monaco, his official residence, he had only lost two other starts, against Federer (1st) in 2006, in the first round, and against Jiri Vesely (55th) in the second in 2016. It was precisely the Czech who brought him down at the end of last February in the quarterfinals of the ATP 500 in Dubai. It is also rare for the Balkan to concede two losses in a row from one tournament to another. It happened to him right in that bump against Klizan. The previous week Thiem had beaten him in the round of 16 in Monte Carlo. For the first time, the Monegasque Masters 1,000 is the second event that he disputes in a course.
That ‘voluntary’ lack of activity is what is taking its toll on Djokovic, since, no matter how good he is, the absence of competition is noticed by anyoneeven a legend, when he faces rivals with the hunger and desire that Davidovich and, at the time, Vesely showed. Alejandro, Promesa AS award in 2017, that course in which he was proclaimed junior champion at Wimbledon, left his life, his knuckles, his knees, his hip and his back to try subtract all serves and answer most of the blows from the Belgrade giant, who committed an equally unusual number of unforced errors: 51. His rival, the intrepid tennis player from Rincón de la Victoria, accumulated 34, but hit 37 winners, 10 more than Nole. And his great merit was overcoming the stick of losing a second set that he had almost won with a 4-2 tiebreaker and winning the third, after a start in which Djokovic went into robot mode. Admittedly, it didn’t last too long.
emotion and tears
Davidovich exploited all his virtues: strength, technique, spectacle and passion. All that was a world for a Djokovic out of shape (“Physically, I collapsed, I couldn’t move or feel my legs, I ran out of gas,” he said afterwards)who could not offer a victory to his parents, his wife and their children, who were in the stands, close to Goran Ivanisevic, since this year his only coach, and his faithful physio, Ulises Badio. And that he roared with rage after equalizing the match with a worthwhile passing. What I did not expect is the integrity and maturity shown by an opponent who is the paradigm of what it means to play against a Navy tennis player on clay. The kid did not give up and, although in the end he almost did not believe it (his coach, Jorge Aguirre, cried in the box, possibly neither), he more than deserved an inexcusable victory. A new reinvention awaits Djokovic, who congratulated him with kind words (“Bravo”), a hug and a smile, because on the circuit they have lost respect for him for various reasons, including tennis. “I’m not going to stop, I’m going to keep going and I hope to get to Roland Garros well, to reach the top there, that’s the great goal of the clay campaign, in which historically I never start well,” he explained.
Results of the Masters 1,000 of Montecarlo.