Novak Djokovic’s admission about Rafa Nadal amid sad Monte Carlo blow

ovak Djokovic has expressed his sadness that Rafa Nadal isn’t playing the Monte Carlo Masters, but admitted it’s good for some other players to get an opportunity to win the event. Nadal is an 11-time champion in Monte Carlo and usually uses the ATP 1000 event as a key lead-up tournament before the French Open.

However the 22-time grand slam champ announced last week that he wouldn’t be playing in Monte Carlo as he hasn’t fully recovered from the hip injury he sustained at the Australian Open. Nadal initially said he would miss between six and eight weeks with the ailment, but the 36-year-old still hasn’t returned to action nearly three months later.

The loss of Nadal is offset by the inclusion of World No.1 Djokovic, who will be playing his first tournament since Dubai in February. The Serbian star was barred from entering the United States to play at Indian Wells and Miami last month due to vaccination mandates, but will be back in action in Monte Carlo on Tuesday.

Discussing Nadal’s absence on Monday, Djokovic said he’s glad someone else will get to lift the crown that Nadal has 11 times before. “Of course, in one way it’s a loss for the tournament and for tennis in general, because he’s by far the most successful clay-court tennis player of all time,” he said.

“We know how many times he has won Monaco and all the other events we played. But on the other hand, it’s an opportunity, I think, for all of us others, when he’s not there, to try to go far and grab a title.”

Djokovic will face Ivan Gakhov in his opening match after the Russian qualifier beat American player Mackenzie McDonald 7-6 (8-6) 2-6 6-3 on Monday. Speaking to reporters, Djokovic said he is “motivated” to make a better than usual start to his clay-court season.


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