Monte-Carlo: Novak Djokovic makes strong start to clay season

The Serb has struggled in the 2024 season so far

By Web Desk
April 09, 2024
Novak Djokovic reacts during his first clay match of the season. — ATP

Novak Djokovic began his Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters campaign with a convincing 6-1, 6-2 against Roman Safiullin to reach the third round on Tuesday.

Djokovic, who had been on the sidelines ever since his shocking defeat to Luca Nardi in the Indian Wells, sent a strong message to his doubters with a strong performance as he overcame his opponent without any trouble.

The Serb arrived in Monte-Carlo without winning any title in the 2024 season so far with his best result being the semi-final of the Australian Open where he lost to the eventual winner Jannik Sinner.

The 36-year-old will face the winner of Arthur Fils or Lorenzo Musetti in the third round. The Italian upset the Serb in Monte-Carlo at the same stage last season.

"I am very pleased," Djokovic said after the win against Safiullin. "I think even the games that I lost I had break points in those games. It is a really great first match at the start of the clay season. It has always been a little bit up and down.

“Last year as well, I started off well at this tournament and the second match I lost, so I hope to maintain this rhythm. I have a day tomorrow of training and I hope to come out in a few days time with the same attitude and quality of tennis."

Djokovic, who turns 37 in May, became the oldest World No 1 in ATP Rankings history overtaking the legendary Roger Federer.

"It is nice, it is great," Djokovic said. "I met [Rohan] Bopanna yesterday, who is the oldest doubles No 1 in history. He said we had a combined age of 80, but he does contribute to the 80 more than I do. But it is fun.

"To still be able to compete at the highest level and being No 1 in the world at the age of 37 is not something honestly [I was] dreaming of, planning on or thinking it would become reality. But all the work and dedication to the sport and my body, staying fit is paying off. I am able to maintain the longevity and extend the career for years and years."