June 21, 2024
Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic struggled at the Monte-Carlo Masters despite reaching the semi-finals.
To see Novak Djokovic struggling physically has been a rare commodity in his iconic career, but now a former world No.1 has labelled his struggles at the Monte-Carlo Masters ‘disturbing’. Justine Henin, who once topped the women’s world rankings for 117 straight weeks and won seven major titles, has spoken out after the Serbian was beaten in the semi-finals by Casper Ruud.

The 36-year-old appeared visibly fatigued during the three-set defeat. And in a previous round, he sparked fears from fans after appearing to be shaking between games in his win over Lorenzo Musetti.

And the retired Henin, 41, argued the difficulties arose from a lack of match practice for Djokovic in 2024. “It’s always a little surprising, almost disturbing, to see him in this state, but he needs this volume,” she told Eurosportplux.

“He has had very little pace since the start of the year and on this surface, he will draw a lot more from his reserves, the rallies are longer. And apparently, with the temperature associated with the surface, that’s a lot for players to manage.”

Novak Djokovic’s run to the final four represented the first time he had reached that stage since 2015, when he won the latter of his two tournament titles. And despite failing to get past Ruud, Henin argued there was reason to be positive for the 24-time Grand Slam winner with his French Open preparations now well underway.

“He is not at his best level but he is winning matches, gaining confidence,” she continued. “And we saw that this (reaching the semi-finals) really gave him a smile again.”

The Serbian has played just three ATP events this season, a notion that has undoubtedly impacted his fitness levels. And at the Australian Open in January, he lost his first match at Albert Park of six years at the semi-final stage, beaten by eventual winner Jannik Sinner.

And yet the all-time great has consistently refuted any talk of a potential retirement, and had cited Monte-Carlo as the tournament to potentially kick-start his year ahead of Roland Garros next month. Djokovic is next scheduled to play on clay at the Madrid Open later this month.

“Hopefully I can pick up, in terms of results,” he said, after the tournament. I can build from here, because, I played some good tennis. Hopefully in the next tournaments I’ll be able to play even better.”

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