Novak Djokovic's earliest loss at an ATP World Tour tournament in three years left him disappointed on Wednesday. But the Serbian also had to nod to Czech Jiri Vesely, who earned the biggest win of his career by knocking off the two-time Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters champion.
“He played very solid. He was serving very big. He was playing tactically good and aggressive,” Djokovic said. “When he was a break up in the third set, he was playing bravely. He was coming in, (hitting) drop shots, big serves. He was going for it. He deserved to have it.”
Vesely controlled his nerves again and again down the stretch in his 6-4, 2-6, 6-4 win against Djokovic, who was seeking to win the year's first three ATP World Tour Masters 1000 titles for the second consecutive year. The left-hander served well, winning 66 per cent of his service points. He also broke Djokovic three times and advanced despite winning an equal number of points as Djokovic – 84.
“I have to congratulate the better player today on the court and just move on from there,” Djokovic said. “It is what it is. Sometimes you don't play your best and you lose.”
The Serb, who lives in Monte-Carlo, said he'd been especially looking forward to the tournament because he gets to sleep in his own bed and spend more time with his family during the week. “I love playing the Monte-Carlo tournament,” he said. “I practise here in these courts. I live here for the last eight, nine years… But in sport you've got to accept it.”
The 28 year old will now experience a rare respite from tennis. Since the beginning of the year, Djokovic said, he's had only two days off. In the meantime, he's compiled a 28-2 record and won four titles: the Qatar ExxonMobil Open, Australian Open, BNP Paribas Open and the Miami Open presented by Itau.
“It's been a tough four or five months,” Djokovic said. “It's going to be rest. Complete rest. I'm really looking forward to that.”
Djokovic is scheduled to play next at the Mutua Madrid Open, which starts May 1. “I've had an incredible start of the season. This match today will not disturb my preparation for the rest of the season and what's coming up. I'm still confident. I'm still feeling I'm playing the best tennis of my life,” he said. “I'll just rest, because sometimes that's what is needed, then get back on the practice courts, adjust to this surface that is completely different from any other, and hopefully I'll be better in the next tournament.”