In the corridor, he closed his eyes for a few seconds, seemed to wrap himself in the bustle and “Noll” which, outside, around the field, gently descending. It was 10:15 pm Dubai time (7:15 pm France time), and World No. 1 returned to the ring, after a hiatus of more than two months and a sudden dismissal from Melbourne last January, he was banned from playing, deprived of the Australian Open, which His status as vulnerable to Covid-19 dragged on like a punishment that couldn’t be squeezed.
The Serbian has not played an official match since December 3rd. That was in the Davis Cup semi-final, against Marin Cilic. And on Monday, he tied the thread of his history in the Emirates by winning the fifth game in a row, in straight sets, without much fear, against Italian Lorenzo Mossetti, 58th in the world, and the looser 6-3, 6. -3 in 1h13.
The episode Djokovic crossed isn’t trivial and his comeback, necessarily, wasn’t trivial. After being examined, observed and studied, the Serb showed that he was again back in the “game”, even if, of course, not everything was enchanted. But facing an opponent who put him in a tight spot in the round of 16 at Roland Garros last year who even led two sets to nothing before collapsing, the world number one issued his first match in 2022, ending with 19 winners. For 14 non-forced errors only.
“It wasn’t perfect, but it wasn’t bad”
“Here I finally started my season and it’s a great moment for medescribed on the ground. It’s a victory in two sets. You played right, even if you had moments where mistakes piled up. But this is normal after two and a half months without competition. It wasn’t perfect, but it wasn’t bad. »
In the end, there was not an iota of suspense and rare moments of combat. Driven by efficient serve (79% points behind first ball), assertive and sharp in the exchange, Djokovic largely dominated debates, engaging without apprehension, without emotion, or restraint. He often puts weight on the ball, dictates heights from the baseline and doesn’t hesitate to come in and finish the job on the net, even giving himself some serve and volleys on the crucial points, when he was in trouble. Thus he exchanged seven points for a break in the game.
The anger is still there
He broke early in the first set, 2-1, before testing his only fear of the set in the next game, clearing three consecutive break points, behind three big first balls. For the rest, Velvet and the first set were completed with conviction, earnestly and without fanfare, in 36 minutes.
The heart of the second set would be a bit more attached, even if Musseti immediately planted a thorn in his foot and twisted his serve match at 1-1 as Djoko tossed himself like a hungry man, breaking with a forehand squirt straight ahead.
It was believed that the Serbs were at rest. Not much after all. At 3-2, the world number one still had to rule out four break points. What he did as he raged at each point, in ecstasy fueled by a few expletives in the Serbian language we know by heart, but which, for once, made his clan and his coach, Goran Ivanisevic, smile visibly with a bit of astonishment. “In these moments of battle, you need to release energy, while still focusing on yourself.”Justify “Joker” at the exit.
However, there was no fire in the lake. But Djokovic has been through so much in the past couple of months that he certainly doesn’t want everything to suddenly go wrong. This week means a lot to him. This goes beyond the actual numbers and the number of ATP points he will be collecting next Sunday. The man with 361 weeks ranked number one in the world knows that on another continent, Daniil Medvedev could end his reign at the end of the week. But in Dubai, Djokovic came to the defense and looking for much more.
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