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ATP Tennis Upsets abound in Monte-Carlo as Djokovic and Alcaraz crash out right away

21-year-old American Sebastian Korda reacts after toppling 18-year-old Miami Open champion Carlos Alcaraz in Monte-Carlo. Photo credit: Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters Facebook

By Ricky Dimon

Well, so much for the projected Monte-Carlo Masters quarterfinal showdown between Novak Djokovic and Carlos Alcaraz….

To say it didn’t even come close to happening would be a gross understatement. Both players fell two rounds short of the quarters, as they combined to win a grand total of zero matches this week. Djokovic’s second tournament of 2022 ended abruptly in the form of a 6-3, 6-7(5), 6-1 loss to Alejandro Davidovich Fokina on Tuesday. Alcaraz played his second-round match on Wednesday and succumbed to Sebastian Korda 7-6(2), 6-7(5), 6-3.

Djokovic understandably showed signs of rust after missing Masters 1000 events in Indian Wells and Miami because he could not enter the United States as an unvaccinated foreigner. The top-ranked Serb was forced out of the Australian Open, as well. Thus Tuesday marked just his first match since February and fourth of the year. A slow start was followed by a resurgent second set, but Djokovic wore down physically and mentally in the third.

“This win is so special for me because I grew up watching Nole and I’m a big fan of his,” Davidovich Fokina commented. “I look at him every tournament, every match. Here in Monte-Carlo, full of people, against the No. 1, I enjoyed every moment. I’m so happy.

Novak Djokovic meets the media in Monte-Carlo. Photo credit: Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters

“I started [well] from the beginning because I knew that Nole [hasn’t played] a lot. Then I had to focus on every point because I had my chances from the beginning and I just did it. When he won the second set it was tough mentally, but I am working so hard to be more focussed. It doesn’t matter if I lost the second set or I lost the first set. I have to be prepared for the war.”

Alcaraz vs. Korda on Wednesday was even more of a war. It lasted three hours and two minutes while featuring 29 break points, 13 of which were converted. The 21-year-old American earned his seventh break for 5-3 in the final set and then came back from 0-30 down in the next game to clinch victory over the recent Miami winner.

“It was nice to get the victory today,” Korda assured. “I stayed calm and believed in my returning. It was super tough. It was a crazy match.”

It will be Korda vs. Taylor Fritz in a third-round battle between fast-rising Americans on Wednesday. Fritz, the Indian Wells champion, knocked off Marin Cilic in three sets.

Ricky contributes to10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.