Novak Djokovic leaves a practice court in tears after learning that his hero had passed away.Hours after finding out his beloved grandfather, Vladimir, had died, Novak Djokovic battled back from a one-set deficit to defeat Alexandr Dolgopolov at the Monte Carlo Open, 2-6, 6-1, 6-4. The world No. 1 was on a practice court earlier in the day when he received the news and left the court in tears.
The world No. 1 received the sad news that his grandfather, Vladimir, had died in Serbia during training for his match against Alexandr Dolgopolov. Djokovic had lived with his Vladimir during the 1999 bombings in Serbia and credited him with having a great influence on his career. After his win in Thursday’s third-round match, Djokovic raised both hands to the sky and wept.
A recent “60 Minutes” piece included a clip of Novak visiting with his grandfather at his apartment in Belgrade. The world No. 1 spoke about how his grandfather, parents, brothers, aunts and uncles lived in the two-bedroom flat during the 78-day campaign. Cameras showed the basement bomb shelter where they’d retreat when air raid sirens sounded.
Last month, Djokovic tweeted about his grandfather’s influence after a win in Miami. “I wanted to dedicate this title to my grandfather Vladimir, who is always sending me lots of positive energy,” he wrote. “He is my hero and a fighter. He thought [sic] me since i was young to never give up.”
His match, interrupted by the fourth rain shower of the day at the Monte Carlo Country Club, eventually ended with a 2-6, 6-1, 6-4 win and a pleading look to the Mediterranean skies from the distraught star.Djokovic was said to be close to grandfather, Vladimir, and he sheltered with him and other family members during the NATO bombing of Belgrade in 1999.
There was no word as to whether the world No. 1 would continue in the tournament, which he missed last year during a record-setting season of 10 titles, including three of the four Grand Slams.He was due to face Robin Haase of the Netherlands in yesterday’s quarter-finals.Second seed Rafael Nadal continued his quest for an eighth straight title at the tournament as he dispatched Mikhail Kukushkin of Kazakhstan 6-1, 6-1.
Nadal is next scheduled to face Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland for a place in the semi-finals.
World No. 2 Nadal needed just 60 minutes to see off Kukushkin, breaking serve five times from six opportunities and dropping only six points on serve. He improved his career record in Monte Carlo to 41-1, his only defeat coming against Guillermo Coria in the third round in 2003.
“The match started in the perfect way,” Nadal said. “I played much better than yesterday, in my opinion. More aggressive, more solid. My serve was much better. The return, too. In general today, I was very happy with how I played.”
Meanwhile, Andy Murray’s apparent jinx on opponents continued, with the third seed advancing when Frenchman Julien Benneteau went down with an ankle injury and subsequently broke his elbow.
Murray got a rare two walkovers last month in Miami, when Canadian Milos Raonic was injured before their third-round encounter and Nadal was unable to play their semi-final due to the knee problems which continue to haunt him.
Murray was leading 6-5 in the first set against world No. 31 Benneteau when the Frenchman took a tumble, rolling his right ankle and landing badly.
“It looked like quite a bad one, he fell quite heavily,” said Murray of Benneteau.
Grimacing in pain, Benneteau was patched up and tried to play on, but he gave up to end the abbreviated contest after 11 games.
Djokovic cried after his grandfather’s death – Monte Carlo Training 19/04/2012: