Djokovic returns to Tour seeking strong start to clay swing

Djokovic returns to Tour seeking strong start to clay swing

After being forced to postpone events in the United States last month, world number one Novak Djokovic says he hopes to get started right away at Monte Carlo and has started getting ready for the clay season early.

Djokovic, 35, was denied entry after attempting to obtain special permission from the U.S. authorities to compete in Indian Wells and Miami but failing due to his lack of a COVID-19 vaccination.

The Australian Open winner claimed his forced hiatus from the Tour helped him concentrate on Monte Carlo, where he lost in the second round last year. He last participated in early March when he lost in the Dubai semi-finals.

The 2013 and 2015 winner, who will first face Mackenzie McDonald or a qualifier, said, “I’ve done more training on clay, which is beneficial if you think about the clay season.”

“For the past two seasons, I haven’t had a lot of luck at Monte Carlo. I haven’t played my best tennis here, so I’m hoping that this year I can improve on last year’s clay-court season debut and improve my form.

Rafa Nadal’s injury prevented him from competing in Monte Carlo, so Novak Djokovic will try to gain ground on the Spaniard before the French Open by aiming for a 23rd Grand Slam.

The 39th Masters 1000 title, which would set a new record, is something Djokovic, who trains in Monaco, believes he can win in Monte Carlo.

“I am familiar with this club. Many elite athletes live in Monaco and train at this club, according to Djokovic.

“The club undergoes a tremendous transformation in the weeks leading up to the tournament, but it’s wonderful to sleep in your own bed.”

Hubert Hurkacz, the 10th seed, came back to defeat Laslo Djere 6-7(5) 7-6(5) 7-6(5) on Sunday, while Nicolas Jarry shocked Borna Coric, the 15th seed, 6-2 6-3.

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