World number one Novak Djokovic crashed to a three-set defeat in only his fourth match of the season, falling 6-3 6-7(5) 6-1 to unseeded Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in the second round of the Monte Carlo Masters on Tuesday.
The 20-time Grand Slam champion endured a tough start to the year as he was unable to defend his Australian Open title in January after being deported from the country for being unvaccinated against COVID-19.
Djokovic, who only played three matches in Dubai ahead of the Masters 1000 event in Monaco, struggled to find his range early in the contest as Spaniard Davidovich Fokina raced to a 4-1 lead before taking the opening set on Court Rainier III.
The world number 46 grabbed an early break in the second set to go up 3-0 but Djokovic battled back before overcoming issues with a wobbly serve to level the contest following a tight tiebreak.
Fokina then raised his game in the decider, preying on mistakes made by a tiring Djokovic and completed the victory as the Serb found the net.
“This win is so special to me because I grew up watching Nole (Djokovic) and I’m a big fan of his,” Davidovich Fokina said in his post-match interview.
“I knew Nole didn’t have the confidence because he didn’t play a lot this season… I had my chances in the beginning of the match and I took them.”
“When he won the second set it was tough mentally, but I work hard to be focused. I had to be prepared for the war.”
Stefanos Tsitsipas will begin the defence of his title at the event with a second-round clash against 2019 champion Fabio Fognini while Grigor Dimitrov plays Dusan Lajovic for a spot in the round of 16.
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