Novak Djokovic (pictured, left) returned to the United States for the first time in almost two years, but his game ended prematurely after Alejandro Davidovich Fokina (pictured, right) resigned.
Novak Djokovic’s return to US singles competition After two years, things didn’t quite go according to plan after his opponent Alejandro Davidovich Fokina was injured after the first set. Djokovic didn’t play tennis in the US since deciding not to take the vaccine, resulting in his being unable to enter the country for the last two hard-court campaigns. And with border restrictions easing for the first time in two years, the 23-time Grand Slam champion made an excited return to the court at the Cincinnati Open. After winning both the Australian Open and Roland Garros in 2023, Djokovic heads into the final Grand Slam of the year in superb form.
However, his preparation did not go as expected as his opponent retired injured. Djokovic had not played a competitive game for a month after being sidelined for a few weeks after losing the Wimbledon final to Carlos Alcaraz. He opted to skip the Canadian Open to give his body a rest and was hoping for some extra time on the court as Fokina would retire after 46 minutes. Djokovic hadn’t played in Cincinnati since 2019 and fans were thrilled to see him.
He even gave a fan an unforgettable memory during a break in the game. As Djokovic waited for Fokina to return after a time-out, he saw a fan take a picture of him. And to the cheers of the crowd, Djokovic walked up to him and blew the supporter a kiss. While there was a lot of hype surrounding Djokovic’s long-awaited return to the US, fans felt the moment after Fokina’s “sad” retirement was a bit flat.
Djokovic will now play Gael Monfils in the next round after the Frenchman played a classic match to defeat in-form Alex de Minaur. Djokovic has defeated Monfils in 18 straight games since 2004.
“I hope Alejandro gets back on the pitch quickly and recovers from his lower back injury, he told me that at net,” Djokovic said after the game. “It’s never the way you want to win, I think for the crowd too. When they come here, they expect to see a fight, they expect to see a match.”
“Obviously it’s great for me to get back on the pitch and win a game. Of course I had mixed feelings about the ending. Still, I hope that I can improve my form day by day and advance in the tournament with the increase in level.”
Novak Djokovic (pictured) returned to the US after two years and was delighted with a win at the Cincinnati Open. (Photo by Aaron Doster/Getty Images)
Alex de Minaur falls in shock in Cincinnati Open loss
De Minaur has been in fantastic form for the past few weeks, reaching back-to-back ATP Finals in Los Cabos and Toronto. However, the Australian suffered a brutal loss to Monfils in the second round of the Cincinnati Open. He couldn’t continue his sparkling form on Wednesday as Monfils showed his seasoned skills to defeat the Australian.
Despite it, De Minaur strikes red-hot form at the US Open. In the absence of the injured Nick Kyrgios, who will miss all four Grand Slam tournaments this year, he will be Australia’s best male hope.
De Minaur’s rise to 12th in the rankings is one better than Kyrgios’ career-high of 13th, making him the highest-ranked Australian man since Lleyton Hewitt in 2006. “Looking at the results I’m pretty happy with it, where my place is.” “The level has been reached and I’m constantly working on my goals,” said the 24-year-old before the defeat on Wednesday.