Monte Carlo: Novak Djokovic lost only his second match of the season as he fell to Czech Jiri Vesely 6-4, 2-6, 6-4 to exit the Monte Carlo Masters yesterday.
“This is a proof that nobody’s unbeatable. It happens so many times in my career that I lose a match. It’s not a first time,” Djokovic said. “It’s not easy to lose the match and accept it right after exiting the court.
“But I have to congratulate my opponent. I think he played very solid.”
The second round loss in just over two hours, Djokovic’s opening match of the tournament, nonetheless left the Serbian with an impressive 28-2 win-loss record in 2016. He was also beaten when he had to quit a Dubai quarter-final two months ago with an eye infection.
The reigning champion had not lost in 22 Masters 1000 matches since going down in the 2015 Cincinnati final and had won his last 14 matches on the ATP circuit heading into this week.
Djokovic saved a match point in the final game but it was not enough as Vesely earned two more and converted on the first of those when the seed fired wide.
Stan Wawrinka and Rafael Nadal both booked spots in the third round with the pair starting their spring seasons in contrasting form to Djokovic.
French Open champion Wawrinka began perhaps the most important clay seasons of his career with a 7-6 (7/2) 7-5 defeat of Philipp Kohlschreiber.
Nadal, the fifth-seeded Roland Garros king, emerged a 6-3, 6-3 winner over Briton Aljaz Bedene.
Nadal will next play Austrian 12th seed Dominic Thiem, who beat him in a February clay semi-final in Buenos Aires. Thiem advanced in Monte Carlo over Japan’s Taro Daniel 4-6, 6-2, 6-0.
Fourth seed Wawrinka, who won the Monaco title in 2014, will line up in the third round against 15th seed Gilles Simon.
Bosnian Damir Dzumhur, ranked 99 in the world, pulled off an upset over sixth seed Tomas Berdych 6-4, 6-7 (1/7), 6-3. `
Canadian 10th seed Milos Raonic struggled past Pablo Cuevas 7-5, 2-6, 7-6 (7/5) with 11 aces and three breaks of serve.