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Novak Djokovic says he ‘collapsed physically’ in Monte Carlo loss

  • Novak Djokovic has barely played this year as he hasn’t been vaccinated against COVID-19.
  • And after bombing the Monte Carlo Masters, the Serb blamed his lack of stamina.
  • “I completely ran out of gas,” he said in a post-match interview.

Novak Djokovic blamed his lack of stamina after losing his first competitive tennis match since February on Tuesday.

The Serb had only played three matches this year due to restrictions on his COVID-19 vaccination status and was bombed in the second round of the Monte-Carlo Masters on Tuesday.

After a first-round bye, Djokovic was beaten 6-3, 6-7 (5-7), 6-1 by world number 46 Alejandro Davidovich Fokina of Spain.

“I fought my way to the third set,” Djokovic told reporters after the loss. “But then I fell apart
physically. I couldn’t move.”

It’s the first time Djokovic has lost a first game in a tournament since 2018, according to the BBC.

“I just completely ran out of gas,” he added. “I couldn’t really stay in the rally with him. If you can’t stay in the rally, without feeling your legs on the dirt, it’s mission impossible.

“I don’t like that kind of feeling I got in the third [set]but I will find with my team the reasons why this was the case and go back to the drawing board.”

Davidovich Fokina, 22, described his victory over one of his childhood idols as “special”.

“I grew up watching Nole and I’m a huge fan of his,” said the Spaniard, who cut himself badly during the game.

“I knew Nole didn’t have confidence because he hasn’t played much this season. I had my chances early in the game and took them.

“When he won the second set it was tough mentally, but I’m working hard to be focused. I had to be ready for war.”

Djokovic’s refusal to get a COVID-19 shot eventually saw him miss the Australian Open in January.

Although he was initially given a special license to play unvaccinated, it was later revoked and he was subsequently expelled from the country for providing false information about his pre-tournament fate on his visa.

Since then, the world number one has played only one tournament, the Dubai Open, where he lost in the quarter-finals to Jiří Veselý.

The European clay season, however, should provide him with more opportunities to play as COVID-19 restrictions have been eased across much of the continent.

The Serb said after his loss to Davidovich Fokina that he hoped to regain his form ahead of the French Open, which starts on May 22.

“I have to accept defeat and keep working and hopefully building my form for Roland Garros,” he said.

“I’m testing my engine, so to speak, and building my game, so obviously it will take time, a few games to really get into the rhythm and find the competitive play that I really need.

“Roland Garros is the ultimate goal of the season on clay.”

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