Cincinnati Masters: Novak Djokovic makes winning return in US as Alejandro Davidovich Fokina retires
Djokovic, who won the titles in Cincinnati in 2018 and 2020, will next meet Frenchman Gael Monfils on Thursday in a Round of 16 clash.
SPORTS (ANI)- Making his first match appearance in Cincinnati since 2019, the 23-time Grand Slam champion Novak Djokovic clinched a 6-4 opening set against Alejandro Davidovich Fokina before the Spaniard retired in the first game of the second set. Djokovic, who won the titles in Cincinnati in 2018 and 2020, will next meet Frenchman Gael Monfils on Thursday in a Round of 16 .
Davidovich Fokina departed the court for a medical break late in the first set owing to a back ailment, then retired early in the second due to the injury with 46 minutes remaining on the clock. “I hope Alejandro bounces back to the court quickly, recovers from his lower back injury, that’s what he told me at the net,” ATP quoted Djokovic as saying in a post-match presentation.
“It’s never the way you like to win, I think for the crowd as well. Coming in, they expect to see a battle, they expect to see a match. Of course, it’s great for me to be able to come back to the court and win a match. Obviously mixed emotions with the way it finished. Nevertheless, I’m hoping that I can build my form day to day and progress through the tournament by raising the level,” said the Serbian.
After a shaky start in which Djokovic saved two early break points, the Serbian found his footing against the Toronto semi-finalist and began to dominate the baseline rallies. At 3-4, Davidovich Fokina exited the court for treatment, and the final three games of the set all went against him.
In the Round of 16, the Serbian will try to continue his perfect 18-0 tour-level record against Monfils. “He’s an amazing guy. Someone I truly respect and like a lot as a person. He brings so much joy to the fans, so much entertainment. One of the most charismatic players that we’ve had in the past two decades on the Tour,” ATP quoted Djokovic as saying of the Frenchman.
“It’s great to see him back after several years of struggling with injuries. He’s playing as good as ever. He’s a year older than me. Everybody talks about my age, but what about him! He’s doing amazing, so it’s going to be a duel of the veterans tomorrow I guess,” the 23-time Grand Slam champion said.