Novak Djokovic was able to overcome emotional difficulties on Thursday, winning a decisive victory that allowed him to reach the Monte Carlo Masters quarterfinals, just hours after learning about the death of his grandfather.
The World No. 1 Novak was informed that his grandfather, Vladimir Djokovic, had passed away during his preparations for his match against No. 21-ranked-Ukrainian Alexandr Dolgopolov., reported CNN. However, he put his grief aside until after the match, determined to win to advance to the next round.
I think he made a fantastic effort today, six-time French open champion Rafael Nadal said of Djokovic, reported the Canadian Press. It means that he is very strong mentally today. I just congratulate him for what he did this afternoon. I'm sorry for him, I'm sorry for his grandfather. I told him in the locker room.
Djokovic did not attend the post-game press conference, due his stress over the loss of his grandfather.
He lost his grandfather today just before the match, and it was very hard for him to play, the ATP said in a statement, according to the Canadian Press. After he won, he just felt totally exhausted physically, mentally and emotionally.
Djokovic kept his head down as he approached the court for the start of the match. He lost the opening set, missing volleys and hitting wide shots. Twice he lost his serve to his Ukrainian opponent. As he waited for the second round to start, he simply stared at the ground, reported the Canadian Press.
After the beginning of the second round, he got a second wind, regaining his momentum. After a rain delay, Djokovic fought back to claim a 2-6, 6-1, 6-4 victory.
As fans cheered his name, the 24-year-old crouched down and covered his face, as he appeared to wipe away tears with his forearm. Even his opponent, Dolgopolov, began to applaud him. Djovovic pointed up towards the sky, in honor of his recently deceased grandfather. He then silently walked off the court.
In the next round Djokovic will face the Dutchman Robin Haase. Haase has never won back-to-back matches at the ATP Masters, but this week he won three in row, securing his position in the quarter-finals. However, Haase is 2-10 lifetime vs. top 10 opponents, giving the top-ranked Djokovic the clear advantage in the upcoming match.