Novak Djokovic: World No 1 in line to meet Spain’s Carlos Alcaraz at Monte Carlo Masters | Tennis News

Novak Djokovic will be seeking his third Monte Carlo title, but world No. 1 will have to negotiate a difficult path which includes Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz in a potential blockbuster quarter-final; Indian Wells champion Taylor Fritz is also in the top quarter

Last Updated: 10/04/22 5:30 pm

Novak Djokovic will play just his second tournament of the year in Monte Carlo

Novak Djokovic will make his much-anticipated return to tennis with the world No. 1 handed a potential showdown against Spanish youngster Carlos Alcaraz at the Monte Carlo Masters.

Djokovic leads the field with 11-time champion Rafael Nadal currently recovering from a stress fracture to his rib cage.

The Serbian will play just his second tournament of the year in Monte Carlo having been deported from Australia because of his refusal to be vaccinated against Covid-19 ahead of the Grand Slam in Melbourne, but has vowed to use his tough experiences to fuel his season .

His last outing came at the Dubai Tennis Championships where he suffered a quarter-final exit at the hands of Jiri Vesely.

“I still feel motivated to be on the Tour and compete with young guys and try to challenge the best players in the world for the biggest titles,” Djokovic said in his pre-tournament press conference.

“It has been a challenging few months and something I never experienced before. So I will try to use that as a fuel for what’s coming up.”

Novak Djokovic on his tough experiences

The 20-time Grand Slam champion will have to negotiate a tough path if he wants to add a third Monte Carlo title to his trophy collection.

Djokovic, who opens against Spaniard Alejandro Davidovich Fokina, could face rising star Alcaraz in a blockbuster quarter-final at the prestigious event, with Indian Wells champion Taylor Fritz also in his quarter.

“I try to be optimistic in life and consider myself a very optimistic, positive person,” he said. “I take lessons available in every experience, particularly in something as large as what happened in January.

“Once I start playing matches I will obviously have to deal with everything that probably has been dormant inside and is maybe waiting to come out.

“I don’t feel it has left huge scars that I’m unable to train or participate in tournaments or live my life … far from that.

“But it has been a challenging few months and something I’ve never experienced before. So I’ll try to use that as a fuel for what’s coming up.”

Alcaraz (18-2) capped a dream run at the Miami Open with victory in the final to secure the biggest win of his young career.

Victory for the 18-year-old marked his third ATP Tour title following triumphs at the Rio Open in February and his win at Umag last July when he became the youngest tour-level champion since Kei Nishikori won at Delray Beach in 2008.

Fourth seed Casper Ruud is in the top half of the draw and is a potential semi-finalist opponent for Djokovic.

Djokovic, who has only played three matches this year, said he missed competing.

“The last four, five months have been really challenging for me mentally and emotionally, but here I am. I try to leave all of that behind and move on,” Djokovic said.

“My Roland Garros win last year is still fresh in my memory, so I try to use that as inspiration to kickstart the clay-court season in the best possible way.

“I intend to play the full clay-court season according to my schedule of previous years. I understand I probably won’t be at my best particularly at the beginning of this week, so I’m testing my engine, so to say , and building my game. “

Britain’s Cameron Norrie, who climbed into the Top 10 of the ATP Rankings for the first time on Monday, will open against Tallon Griekspoor or Albert Ramos-Vinolas, while Dan Evans faces 14th seed Roberto Bautista Agut in the first round.

In the bottom half of the draw, reigning champion Stefanos Tsitsipas will start his title defense against Italian former champion Fabio Fognini or Frenchman Arthur Rinderknech.

Dominic Thiem and Matteo Berrettini have both been ruled out of the tournament due to Covid and injury respectively.

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