Monte-Carlo Masters 2022: Djokovic, an enigma on earth | Sports

From time to time, Novak Djokovic comes and goes, who after 45 days of absence will find the track of Monte-Carlo this week. The number one will do it surrounded by a big question mark, gigantic if you like, because to the month and a half of parenthesis is added the inactivity of this whole season – three games in Dubai, neither more nor less – and the uncertainty of how he can play a tennis player who has hardly played, without shooting, voluntarily isolated – his refusal to be vaccinated against covid prevented him from competing in Indian Wells and Miami – and pointed the finger since it gave a pulse to the system at the beginning of the year in Australia.

In summary: a monumental mess, a single tournament, two victories – against Lorenzo Musetti and Karen Khachanov – and a revealing defeat against the Czech Jiri Vesely (123rd in the world). It is Nole’s 2022, which once again plunges its head into the luxurious landscape of the Principality, which was its home for a decade. “I was looking forward to the time to get back to competition, so this is the best place I could start,” said the Serb as he approached the third Masters 1000 on the course, which is the official clay-court shot. tour and his second comeback in just three months.

The first, on February 21 in the emirate, left the feeling that even for someone as good as him there must be a minimum frequency of competition. He pulled a few rounds, but on the third round his seams showed and he fell. To the stumbling block was added the loss of the number one – whom he found later, thanks to the instability of Daniil Medvedev – then the surprising announcement that Marian Vajda, his sporting father, was leaving the team after 15 years as allies. Djokovic then saw the ears of the wolf, aware that in order not to lose the flame he had to play, yes or yes.

“The last four or five months have been a real challenge for me, both physically and emotionally,” admitted the Balkan, cited in the first round of Monte Carlo with Spaniard Alejandro Davidovich (7-5 ​​and 6- 4 against Marcos Giron). “I’m aware that I’m probably not at my best this week, and I’m still testing my engine and building my game, so it’s going to take time and a few games to find the rhythm I really need,” he continued. “But he tried to be positive in life and I consider myself a positive person. I will try to leave everything behind and move on,” said the Belgrader.

Potential crossover with Alcaraz

Nole (34) says he records every experience he has, good and bad. In the same way, he admits that it will not be easy to let go of the recent past, engraved in his memory and in the history of tennis. His arrest and deportation in Australia has gone viral and now the tennis player is trying to join the circuit against the tide, cold and numb, while the rest of the players are already carrying considerable physical and mental inertia after crossing American cement.

“It’s clear that once I start playing, I will have to deal with everything that has been in me during this period,” he admits. “But I don’t feel like I left any big scars that prevent me from training or competing, or living my life, far from it. It’s been a tough few months, something I hadn’t lived before, but I’ll try to use it as my essence,” adds Djokovic, who is preparing his assault on clay from day 3 and could meet today’s big sensation in the quarter-finals. , Carlos Alcaraz.

In any case, the king of the ATP lives from day to day and prefers not to go beyond the first season. Asked about the early elimination of the Monegasque in 2021 – he yielded to Daniel Evans in the second round – due to a disadvantage compared to the others and the difficulty that this part of the season entails for him, he evokes his beginnings and the last year. .

Last year’s reference

“The earth is the surface on which I grew up; in fact, for many years I only played on this surface. Historically it has not been the most successful for me [de sus 86 títulos, 17 llevan el sello de la arcilla], but I had great successes,” he recalls; “Last year’s victory at Roland Garros [frente a Stefanos Tsitsipas en la final, previo triunfo contra Rafael Nadal en las semifinales] It’s still very recent in my memory, so I try to draw inspiration from it”, explains the number one, supported by this sequence which led him to lift his second trophy at the Bois de Boulogne, after that obtained in 2016 .

Djokovic achieved this after reversing the involuntary trend of recent years on the sand and signing an irregular preparatory course, without having participated in any tournament between the Australian Open and Paris. However, the decision was strategic, unrelated to a legal or border issue like this. Crashed in Monte-Carlo, then lost in Belgrade against Aslan Karatsev (losing 23 balls from Pause), went against Nadal in the final in Rome and before landing in the big French, he gained momentum in his hometown. From there to bingo.

Today, the situation is completely different. And, even so, Djokovic does not give up. Dressed in a sheepskin, the Serb will try to find his biorhythms and will land on May 22 ready. So he warns: “I’m always motivated to face the best.”

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