April 21, 2019
Both Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal beaten surprisingly in Monte Carlo.
Indeed, it was Nadal’s conqueror, Fabio Fognini, who went on to take the Monte Carlo title with a 6-3, 6-4 victory over Dusan Lajovic.
When Fabio is good, he can be almost unplayable. So, it proved in the end as he became the first Italian in 51 years to win there. Fognini rightly received praise of his own after winning his first Masters 1000 title. He beat Nadal 6-4, 6-2 on his way to the final, leaving Nadal to claim it was his worst performance on clay for 14 years.
But these are early days in the 2019 clay court season. Nadal’s problem may not be so much that he is carrying an injury. More that he fears breaking down again.
Rafa needs to learn to trust his body even better if he is to find fresh glory on his favourite surface.
For Djokovic, the problems are also mainly psychological, although he ran into Daniil Medvedev just when the 23-year-old was playing his best tennis.
Even so, Medvedev’s 6-3, 4-6, 6-2 victory saw him break the Djokovic serve almost at will. And Novak needs to rediscover his competitive edge as he builds towards Roland Garros.
One man in particular will have enjoyed events down in Monte Carlo, without even playing a point – Roger Federer.
Federer will have seen nothing to fear from Nadal and Djokovic so far, as he waits to join the clay court season next month.