Novak Djokovic suffered the first non-injury related loss of his season on Wednesday, dropping his opening match in Monte-Carlo to young Czech lefty Jiri Vesely, 6-4, 2-6, 6-4.
Djokovic’s loss was historic on multiple levels. Just to name a few:
— It was Vesely’s first career win over a top 10 player (previously 0-8, against eight different players)
— It’s Djokovic’s first loss before the final of a Masters 1000 or Grand Slam since October 2014
— Djokovic hadn’t lost his first match at an event in three years, per Nick Nemeroff (Grigor Dimitrov in Madrid)
— Djokovic, who turns 29 next month, hadn’t lost to a younger player since the 2014 U.S. Open semifinals to Kei Nishikori and hadn’t lost to a player outside the top 30, also to Nishikori back in 2011
In press, Djokovic admitted to being worn out and needing rest after winning Indian Wells and Miami and that he’s not worried long-term. His loss opens up the draw for Roger Federer and a host of second tier players in the top half.
As for the bottom half, eight-time champion Rafael Nadal submitted an adequate performance in his opener (6-3, 6-3 over Aljaz Bedene), but can’t be a clear favorite due to his tough draw. He plays Dominic Thiem on Thursday in the clear match of the day. The winner there will face the winner of Stan Wawrinka versus Gilles Simon.
It was a bad day not only for the defending champion in Djokovic, but the defending runner-up as well, as Tomas Berdych fell to Damir Dzumhur and will drop from seventh to ninth in the rankings as a result. Richard Gasquet was upset as well, while Milos Raonic avoided the trend by surviving in a third set tiebreaker over clay courter Pablo Cuevas.