Is Novak Djokovic Playing Italian Open 2021?

Published 05/08/2021, 7:40 AM EDT
Tennis – ATP Masters 1000 – Monte Carlo Masters – Monte-Carlo Country Club, Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, France – April 14, 2021 Serbia’s Novak Djokovic reacts during his second round match against Italy’s Jannik Sinner REUTERS/Eric Gaillard


While he launched his season with a record ninth career title at the Australian Open, Novak Djokovic hasn’t had the tennis gods smiling on him ever since.

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While this year has also seen him set a record for the highest number of weeks as World No.1, overshadowing the previous one held by Roger Federer, his time on the tennis court hasn’t been as fulfilling since his glory run at Melbourne Park.

He took a break from tennis to recover from an abdominal muscle tear that he sustained during his nerve-racking third-round win over American Taylor Fritz at the Australian Open, skipping some events, including the Miami Open, as a result.

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The Serb returned to competitive action at the Monte-Carlo Masters but crashed out early after losing to British No.1 Dan Evans in the third round.

While his defeat at the French principality, where he is currently based with his family, was perhaps the result of pre-tournament rustiness and lack of match time, what followed in his homeland was scarcely believable.

Novak Djokovic’s Serbia Open loss led to questions around his form on clay

Slipping on clay again, Djokovic lost the Serbia Open semifinals to tenacious Russian Aslan Karatsev, marking his first defeat in his homeland in years.

Amid concerns around his sudden dip in form and diminishing returns on clay, the Serb decided not to defend his 2019 Madrid Open title this year.

Putting out a statement confirming his withdrawal from the prestigious Masters 1000 event, the World No.1 said, “Sorry that I won’t be able to travel to Madrid this year and meet all my fans! It’s been two years already, quite a long time. Hope to see you all next year.”

The fact that he didn’t open up on the reason for his withdrawal and also that it came so soon after his return from an extended lay-off post the Australian Open is bound to raise questions around his fitness and, dare one say, motivation.

Tennis – ATP Masters 1000 – Monte Carlo Masters – Monte-Carlo Country Club, Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, France – April 14, 2021, Serbia’s Novak Djokovic reacts during his second round match against Italy’s Jannik Sinner REUTERS/Eric Gaillard

The Italian Open in Rome, which will follow Madrid on the European clay court leg, will be his last opportunity to fix his game on red soil ahead of the all-important French Open.

Novak Djokovic still hasn’t confirmed participation at Italian Open 2021

Strangely, Djokovic hasn’t yet put out a word on his participation in the Rome which opens on May 10.

The Serb features as the top seed in the provisional list of players for the tournament draw but a delay in confirmation will raise doubts around his participation.

And, if he doesn’t feature in the tournament, what does it mean for his chances at Roland-Garros? They would take a beating for sure.

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However, it turns out that Djokovic will hit practice for the Italian Open soon and will spar with old rival and three-time Grand Slam champion Andy Murray.

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But as long as official confirmation comes, it’s all in the realms of speculation.

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Priyabrata Chowdhury

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Priyabrata Chowdhury is a tennis author for EssentiallySports. He has been a print journalist for a decade, producing news pages for leading national dailies such as the Hindustan Times and The New Indian Express. His passion for sports eventually drove him to tennis writing.

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