Novak Djokovic’s dominance whenever he steps on a fast surface, be it a hard court or grass, is light years ahead of his performance when he lands on clay.
It doesn’t matter that he has had more time to train on clay as a result of his absence at Indian Wells and Miami.
His performance is very reminiscent of last year at this stage and that did not help him to stand up to Rafael Nadal at Roland Garros.
After winning his opening tennis match at the Masters 1000 in Monte Carlo against the unknown Ivan Gakhov with many reservations, the Serb bowed out on Thursday in the eighth round against Lorenzo Musetti by 4-6, 7-5, 6-4, in 2 hours and 54 minutes.
To find the last time he reached the last eight of the Monegasque tournament, you have to go back to the 2019 edition. There he lost to the Russian Daniil Medvedev.
Novak, who came out wearing an elbow brace, lost his serve eight times, which was too often to win any match against any opponent.
He survived three elimination points in the 10th game of the tie-break set, but missed the fourth when he smashed a backhand into the net. Musetti scored the biggest win of his career against an opponent he had lost all three previous matches against.
The rain interrupted the match at 1-1 in the tiebreak and after Djokovic got into a fight with the chair umpire over a dubious call.
It seemed that the stoppage would favor ‘Nole’ but it was not to be. His executioner, supported by the crowd, held the ‘break’ advantage to ensure the presence of an Italian in the semi-final. The Italian will now face his compatriot Jannik Sinner in the quarter-final on Friday.
Fight for the world no.1 spot is on
Next on the roadmap of the world number one is the Open 250 in Banja Luka. So far, he has not taken advantage of Carlos Alcaraz’s absence in Monte Carlo to increase his lead at the top of the world rankings. The difference between the two is currently 470 points.