Davidovich Fokina Downs Djokovic
Alejandro Davidovich Fokina had won just seven games across two previous meetings with Novak Djokovic coming into the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters, but the World No. 46 banished those demons in style on Tuesday with a stunning upset on the Monaco clay.
The Spaniard struck the ball with power and accuracy throughout the second-round clash, recovering from the disappointment of losing a tight second-set tie-break to clinch a 6-3, 6-7(5), 6-1 victory at the ATP Masters 1000 event.
“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.”
It was Djokovic’s first match since his quarter-final defeat to Jiri Vesely at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships in February and the top seed was given little room to find his feet by his tenacious opponent at the Monte Carlo Country Club.
The World No. 1 may have enjoyed comfortable wins over the Spaniard at the 2021 Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome and the Tokyo Olympics, but Davidovich Fokina reached the quarter-finals on debut in Monte Carlo in 2021 and is renowned as one of the toughest competitors on Tour.
Any illusions of a third consecutive landslide victory for Djokovic over the Spaniard were shattered early on Court Rainier III as Davidovich Fokina broke three times on his way to the first set, with an out-of-sorts Djokovic offering up 16 unforced errors in the frame.
A topsy-turvy second set featured six breaks of serve, and although Djokovic failed to serve it out at 5-4, the Serb produced a stunning forehand pass to clinch the tie-break.
“I started [well] from the beginning because I knew that Nole [hasn’t played] a lot,” said Davidovich Fokina. “Then I had to focus on every point because I had my chances from the beginning and I just did it.
“When he won the second set it was tough mentally, but I am working so hard to be more focussed. It doesn’t matter if I lost the second set or I lost the first set. I have to be prepared for the war.”
Daviodovich Fokina was not to be denied, however. The Spaniard continued to successfully pressure the Djokovic serve and he broke three times in the deciding set to complete the biggest win of his career in two hours, 54 minutes.
Davidovich Fokina’s return game proved crucial to his victory. The Spaniard won 45 per cent (34/76) of points against Djokovic’s first serve, numbers that enabled him to break the Serb nine times in the match.
The defeat marks the first time Djokovic has lost his opening match at a tournament since falling to Marin Klizan in Barcelona in 2018.
Davidovich Fokina can equal his 2021 Monte Carlo quarter-final run with a win in his third-round clash with World No. 27 Daniel Evans or wild card David Goffin.