RETURN OF THE DJOK He is back! World number one Novak Djokovic is finally returning to a competitive match court. It’s been stop-start after the drama surrounding his deportation from Australia and uncertainty brought on by his vaccination status have blighted his attempts to kick on from a scintillating 2021 campaign. As a result, the Serb has played just three matches so far in 2022 having missed the action at the season’s first Grand Slam and the Masters 1000 events at Indian Wells and Miami. Indeed, this – the Monte Carlo Masters - is just his second tournament having been surprisingly defeated by 123rd-ranked qualifier Jiri Vesely in the Dubai quarter finals way back on February 24. Djokovic has himself suggested he expects to be rusty but will need to find some semblance of form to see off his round two opponent, Alejandro Davidovich Fokina on Court Rainier III. The players are due out shortly.
N. Djokovic vs A. Davidovich | Monte Carlo
Men's Singles | Round 2 | 12.04.2022 | Court Rainier III
N. Djokovic (1)
MATCH REPORT AND REACTION
Davidovich Fokina shocks the world number one in his first match since February.
The young Spaniard also gives his verdict on the finest success of his young career.
Djokovic stunned by Davidovich in return at Monte Carlo
GAME, SET AND MATCH! – DJOKOVIC 3-6 7-6 (5) 1-6 DAVIDOVICH FOKINA. What a result! It’s a major scalp for Davidovich Fokina who beats Djoker and the wind to prevail in just under three hours. He breaks for the ninth time as the Serb's unforced error count passes 50. A day to forget for Nole who will need to improve greatly if he's to defend his French Open title.
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DJOKOVIC 3-6 7-6 (5) 1-5 DAVIDOVICH FOKINA. Novak is done. He looks shattered as the 22-year-old consolidates his double break to love. He's one game from the biggest win of his career.
BREAK! – DJOKOVIC 3-6 7-6 (5) 1-4 DAVIDOVICH FOKINA. Ouch. Djoker hammers a backhand up the line – but it slaps into the net. It’s even more painful given it’s on the second of two break points he’d coughed up. ADF has the double break and surely, SURELY, must take advantage of that now.
DJOKOVIC 3-6 7-6 (5) 1-3 DAVIDOVICH FOKINA. That’s a big hold too. Talk about intriguing. ADF conjures up a couple of quite sensational forehands to make deuce after coughing up a break point and outlasts the top seed in some gruelling rallies to maintain his advantage. A very, very tired-looking drop shot from Djokovic goes well wide to conclude the game and you do wonder if fatigue will play a role as we approach the three-hour mark in this contest.
DJOKOVIC 3-6 7-6 (5) 1-2 DAVIDOVICH FOKINA. Another close call. ADF has three separate opportunities for the double break but is a mere whisker away from converting one of them with a pass on the run that just misses the line. Somehow Djokovic wriggles out of dodge to get on the board, unloading a huge forehand winner to remain firmly in contention.
DJOKOVIC 3-6 7-6 (5) 0-2 DAVIDOVICH FOKINA. Now, then. Can the 22-year-old Spaniard lead the way more convincingly this time around? He backs up the break with a very tidy hold to 15 but there's bound to be more twists and turns ahead in this one.
BREAK! – DJOKOVIC 3-6 7-6 (5) 0-1 DAVIDOVICH FOKINA. This match and its twists! You’d have put your house on Nole after that breaker and at 40-15 he looks in control. Alejandro has other ideas and press to deuce with a brilliant drop-shot and disguised crosscourt pass combo. It has Djoker sportingly clapping but the Serb is less than impressed with his own lull as a double fault gift wraps his opponent the perfect start to Set 3.
SET! – DJOKOVIC 3-6 7-6 DAVIDOVICH FOKINA. We are heading into a decider! Fokina had his chances at 4-2 and 5-4 in the breaker but couldn’t get it done and Djokovic snatched it 7-5 with a stunning pass on the stretch.
The Spaniard leads 4-2 at the change of ends. Can he keep his nerve to claim the biggest scalp of his career?
DJOKOVIC 3-6 6-6 DAVIDOVICH FOKINA. Novak forces the tie break after surviving a nervy point at 30-30. ADF once again threw himself onto the clay when he perhaps didn’t need to but there wasn’t any damage this time.
DJOKOVIC 3-6 5-6 DAVIDOVICH FOKINA. ADF raises his fist in what one presumes is delight but his face remains expressionless. It follows another error off the Djoker forehand after a quite sublime winner off the Spaniard’s backhand had put him in charge.
BREAK! – DJOKOVIC 3-6 5-5 DAVIDOVICH FOKINA. Well, that was unexpected. Vintage Djokovic would have closed that out – but he’s far from that here. A trio of unforced errors offer Fokina a lifeline and he makes it count on the second break back point to keep us all guessing as to what is going to happen next.
BREAK! – DJOKOVIC 3-6 5-4 DAVIDOVICH FOKINA. That’s horrific from Alejandro’s point of view. He chucks in three straight double faults to gift the Serb a timely break and the lead for the first time in the set. Djoker will now serve to take us into a decider.
DJOKOVIC 3-6 4-4 DAVIDOVICH FOKINA. Big problems for ADF now. Djokovic looks to have found a higher gear and his error count is growing. The top seed holds to love to level matters in a set that was looking beyond him.
BREAK! – DJOKOVIC 3-6 3-4 DAVIDOVICH FOKINA. Alejandro can’t get it done! He calls for the trainer after an unnecessary dive into a shot – but not before another lull allows Djokovic to bite right back. Will that come back to haunt him?
BREAK! – DJOKOVIC 3-6 2-4 DAVIDOVICH FOKINA. What a reaction! ADF digs deep to quickly find his form again and pile on the pressure. Djokovic saves two break points but then offers up a third when he inexplicably puts a simple overhead wide. The Spaniard then chases down a drop shot to flip a wonderfully, angled winner out of his opponent’s reach.