World number one Novak Djokovic’s return to action did not go to plan on Tuesday as he was dumped out of the Monte Carlo Masters at the second-round stage after suffering a 6-3 6-7 (7-5) 6-1 defeat to Alejandro Davidovich Fokina.
Djokovic was playing in only his second ATP Tour event of 2022 and first since he was defeated by Jiri Vesely in the quarter-finals of February’s Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.
If the 20-time Grand Slam winner had been hoping to ease his way back into competitive action in Monte Carlo, then world number 46 Davidovich Fokina had other ideas, as he broke his opponent three times during the first set before taking it 6-3.
After producing 16 unforced errors during that opening set, Djokovic appeared to find his feet in the second, as despite failing to serve it out at 5-4, he levelled the match during the tie break, sealing the set with a stunning forehand pass.
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Having taken just seven games from his previous two meetings with Djokovic, both of which ended in defeat, Davidovich Fokina would have been forgiven for thinking his chances of winning had slipped through his fingers.
However, the Spaniard rallied during the deciding set, again breaking Djokovic three times to seal the biggest win of his career in two hours and 54 minutes.
Davidovich Fokina, who reached the quarter-finals in Monte Carlo last year, will now face either David Goffin or British number two Dan Evans in round three – those two will meet in the third round on Wednesday (Goffin 8/11, Evans 11/10 – Match Betting).
“This win is so special for me because I grew up watching Nole and I’m a big fan of his,” said Davidovich Fokina in his on-court interview. “I look at him every tournament, every match. Here in Monte Carlo, full of people, against the No. 1, I enjoyed every moment and I’m so happy.”
Evans booked his place in round two with an emphatic 6-0, 7-6 (7-4) victory over Frenchman Benjamin Bonzi earlier on Tuesday, while the experienced Goffin got the better of Jiri Lehecka 6-4, 6-3.
Other notable matches to look out for on Wednesday, include British number one Cameron Norrie, who is seeded seven, taking on Albert Ramos-Vinolas in round two (Ramos-Vinolas 5/4, Norrie 8/13 – Match Betting), while Alexander Zverev faces a stern test of his credentials against clay-court specialist Federico Delbonis (Delbonis 6/1, Zverev 1/12 – Match Betting).
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