- This will be Novak Djokovic’s first tournament for 2022 season
- He hasn’t played any match since the Australian Open drama where he was deported
- Djokovic pulled out of the Masters 1000 tournaments – Miami Open and Indiana Wells citing tough Covid-19 rules
As he prepares to return to action at the Monte Carlo Masters, Novak Djokovic has warned that he will not be at his best.
As a result of his reluctance to take a Covid-19 vaccine that kept him out of the Australian Open, Indian Wells and Miami Open, the world No. 1 has only played one tournament in 2022.
It’s now time for the 20-time Grand Slam champion to get back into the swing of things as he gears up for the French Open.
Djokovic acknowledged that he may not be at his best at the start of this week.
HOW DOES NOVAK DJOKOVIC FEEL ABOUT PLAYING AT MONTE CARLO?
“I understand that I probably won’t be at my best at the beginning of this week,” said Djokovic according to Tennis365.
The Serbian added that he is now building his game ahead of the Monte Carlo tournament. And he is realistic enough that this process takes a lot of time.
However, he feels motivated to go back where it all happens – especially in Monaco where he last played 10 years ago.
“I am still testing my engine, so to say, and building my game, so it will take obviously some time, some matches to really get in the groove and find the competitive play that I really need.
“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.
“I’m very pleased to be here and Monaco has been home for over 10 years.”
This is Djokovic’s first clay-court season without Rafael Nadal and Daniil Medvedev, two of his most formidable opponents.
The Serbian is eager to get back on the winning track and is looking forward to the opportunity to play on the court once more.
Djokovic says this is the greatest spot to start for him because he has excitedly waited for the day when he would be out competing again.
He adds that Monte Carlo has a lot of memories because it reminds him of his childhood on clay court where he learned to play tennis in.
There have been times when he has had great success on clay, but it’s not his favourite surface.
Since Roland Garros triumph is still fresh in his mind, Djokovic will utilise it as a source of motivation for the clay court year.
He adds that what matters most is holding to the world No.1 spot which he worked hard for.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC AUSTRALIAN OPEN DRAMA
Djokovic’s 2022 season ran into headwinds due to his unvaccinated status. He missed out on the Australian Open because of this, and a visa mix up as well.
In one of the most dramatic events, Djokovic was deported from Australia on orders by Australia’s Immigration Minister Alex Hawke.
He had hoped to play under a Covid-19 vaccination exemption but it never worked out right for him.
WHY DID NOVAK DJOKOVIC MISS OUT ON MIAMI OPEN?
After the Australian Open saga, Miami Open director James Blake invited him to play at the tournament.
Blake hoped that the 20-time Grand Slam champion would add the ATP Masters 1000 event in Miami to his schedule, running from March 21-28.
There were seven titles up for grabs for the Serbian should he have returned to the American event, with the previous one being in 2016.
“We’d love to have him, he’s one of the greatest champions we’ve ever had in the sport,” Blake told the Miami Herald.
Blake wittily advised Djokovic to figure out how to navigate protocols set in relation to compliance with tournament guidelines with Covid-19.
But, in a twist of events, Djokovic stayed away from the Miami Open, and Indian Wells all held in March.
Since they were being held in the US, it was mandatory for him to be vaccinated to play but, he is an anti-vaccination ambassador per se.
In a statement, the Serbian explained why he withdrew from the Master 1000 tournaments.
“While I was automatically listed in the BNP Paribas Open and Miami Open draw I knew it would be unlikely I’d be able to travel. The CDC has confirmed that regulations won’t be changing so I won’t be able to play in the US. Good luck to those playing in these great tournaments.”