Djokovic Out! Vesely Stuns Defending Champ

World No. 55 Jiri Vesely stunned World No. 1 and defending champion Novak Djokovic 6-4, 2-6, 6-4 in the second round of the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters on Wednesday.

“I’m just very, very happy,” said Vesely. “It’s something amazing actually. When I went on court, I had completely different thinking, like I hope to win a game or I really hope to do well. But I really had no idea that I really would be able to beat Novak today. So for me it’s just something what I still can’t believe it really happened.

“I hope it will give me a lot of confidence, a lot of self-belief. I think I’ve struggled pretty much the past few months where I really didn’t play good tennis. Obviously last week was the first week of the year where I played a little bit in good form and in good shape. I’m just amazingly happy the way I fought today and the way I finished the match.”

It is just Djokovic’s second loss of the season and his earliest defeat on the ATP World Tour in three years, since losing in the second round of the Mutua Madrid Open against Grigor Dimitrov.

Bar a quarter-final exit in Dubai, where he was forced to retire against Feliciano Lopez due to an eye problem, Djokovic had won nine of his past 10 tournaments, dating back to a runner-up finish in Cincinnati (l. to Federer) in August 2015.

Vesely held his nerve for a stunning victory in two hours and six minutes. The Czech was denied a match point as Djokovic held serve in the ninth game to force Vesely to serve it out. And the 22 year old did not falter. He served out the victory to 15 in the following game to rapturous applause on Court Ranier III.

Djokovic had seemed poised to stage a fightback after reeling off four straight games from 2-2 in the second set to level the match. But Vesely regrouped in the decider to claim a memorable victory.

It was Djokovic’s first loss to a player outside the Top 50 since his 2010 defeat against Xavier Malisse (No. 74) at The Queen’s Club. The Serb was looking to win a third Monte-Carlo crown this week, following victories in 2013 and 2015.

“This is a proof nobody’s unbeatable,” said Djokovic. “Happens so many times in my career that I lose a match. It’s not the first time.

“Obviously it’s not easy to lose the match in terms of accepting it, right after exiting the court. But I have to congratulate my opponent. I think he played very solid. He was serving very big. He was playing tactically good and aggressive.

“On the other hand, for me, there were just very few things I could take out from today’s match as a positive. I was playing really, really bad.

“But, taking nothing away from my opponent’s performance. He deserved to win. When he was a break up in the third set, he was playing bravely. He was coming in, drop shots, big serves. He was going for it. He deserved to have it.”

Vesely was the inaugural Star of Tomorrow presented by Emirates in 2013 and went on to reach two ATP World Tour finals in 2015, winning his first title as a qualifier in Auckland (d. Mannarino) and finishing runner-up in Bucharest (l. to Garcia-Lopez).

The right-hander came into Monte-Carlo on the back of a semi-final showing in Marrakech, where he fell to Borna Coric. It marked a welcome return to form for Vesely, who had won just one match in seven tournaments at the start of the season.

As he bids to reach his first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 quarter-final, Vesely goes on to face Paolo Lorenzi or Gael Monfils.

Our partners