“Not Too Concerned”: Novak Djokovic on Rafael Nadal’s Shocking Loss to Andrey Rublev at Monte-Carlo Masters

Published 04/21/2021, 9:33 PM EDT
Tennis – ATP Masters 1000 – Monte Carlo Masters – Monte-Carlo Country Club, Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, France – April 14, 2021 Serbia’s Novak Djokovic in action during his second round match against Italy’s Jannik Sinner REUTERS/Eric Gaillard


World number one Novak Djokovic will have a special week as he plays an ATP 250 series tournament in front of his home crowd at Belgrade, Serbia. Djokovic moved into the quarter-finals after defeating Soon-woo Kwon in the second round in straight sets, 6-1,6-3. 

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In the post-match press conference, the Serb was asked about Rafael Nadal’s quarter-final loss to Andrey Rublev at the Monte-Carlo Masters. Djokovic said, “I don’t think that there is anything strange. Probably, a lot of people think that we can play perfect tennis every single week for the rest of our lives. But that’s not possible.”

“We have to adapt ourselves and improve”- Novak Djokovic on facing next-gen players

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The expectations from the Big-3 are always high whenever they enlist in a tournament. Even though clay is Nadal’s turf, he can still lose if the opponent is as resilient as Rublev. Djokovic also spoke about the Big-3’s dominance in the sport over the past decade or so. 

I think Rafa, myself, and Roger have been very successful in dominating in the last 15 years. You have new generations of tennis players who are challenging as for the top spots of the world and on grand slams. We have to adapt ourselves and improve,” Djokovic commented.

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Tennis – ATP Masters 1000 – Monte Carlo Masters – Monte-Carlo Country Club, Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, France – April 15, 2021 Serbia’s Novak Djokovic in action during his third round match against Britain’s Dan Evans REUTERS/Eric Gaillard

Djokovic believes that Rafael Nadal can win big on clay this year

As Rafael Nadal has had a jittery start to his clay-court campaign, many are worried about whether this might be the year where a new champion will be crowned at the French Open. But Djokovic seems to have immense confidence in Nadal’s ability to bounce back at the ongoing Barcelona Open. He said:

I am not too concerned, especially when it comes to Rafa on clay. I don’t think one or two matches or one or two weeks is gonna change the way he plays on clay or for the upcoming tournaments.”

Tennis – ATP Masters 1000 – Monte Carlo Masters – Monte-Carlo Country Club, Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, France – April 16, 2021 Spain’s Rafael Nadal in action during his quarter final match against Russia’s Andrey Rublev REUTERS/Eric Gaillard

Proving Djokovic’s words, Nadal made a solid comeback after being a set down in the second round at the Barcelona Open and defeated Ilya Ivashka, 3-6, 6-2,6-4. 

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Both Djokovic and Nadal are playing in front of their home crowds this week. Talking about the pressure of playing at home, Djokovic said, “We have an extra motivation but also an extra pressure because you are playing in front of your cousins, your family, and people that you know. So it’s a different feeling.”

As a clash between the two stalwarts is yet to happen this year on clay, it’s odd for the tennis world to see them lose their touch during a tournament. A dip in form is casual for most tennis players, but the Big-3 are usually expected to go deep in every tournament they play.

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Sagar Ashtakoula

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