Novak Djokovic was beaten by Alejandro Davidovich Fokina on Tuesday as the world tennis No 1’s return to the ATP Tour fell flat at the Monte Carlo Masters.
Playing for the first time since February, after skipping the US hard-court swing due to being without a coronavirus vaccination, Djokovic was beaten in just under three hours.
The Serbian lost 6-3 6-7 (5-7) 6-1 after he faced 20 break-points.
He was broken on no fewer than nine occasions as the world No 46 Fokina recovered from a major setback in the second set to score the best win of his career.
Djokovic is clearly in need of more match practice if he is to end a torrid year — which saw him deported prior to the Australian Open in January — by improving on his 20 grand slam titles.
A two-time winner in Monte Carlo, Djokovic was staring at a swift defeat when he lost the first set and was then immediately broken at the start of the second.
The Spaniard showed his inexperience with a needless dive at the start of the seventh game of the set.
This prompted injury fears and enabled Djokovic to reel off 10 points in a row as he broke back to love to wrest the upper-hand.
The momentum swung back in Fokina’s direction when Djokovic, serving for the set, conjured four unforced errors to allow his opponent to break back and ultimately force a tie-break.
But having come back from 4-2 down to win the breaker, Djokovic’s recent inactivity told as he was broken three more times in a one-sided deciding set.
Britain’s Dan Evans also reached the second round after securing a 6-0, 7-6 (7-4) win over Benjamin Bonzi of France. (NAN)