The 2022 Monte-Carlo Masters is finally here, as are the world’s best tennis players. Top seeds Novak Djokovic, Alexander Zverev, Stefanos Tsitsipas, and teenage sensation Carlos Alcaraz started their respective tournaments on Tuesday.

However, players like Jannik Sinner, Grigor Dimitrov, reigning Indian Wells champion Taylor Fritz, past champion Stan Wawrinka, and others will begin their quest for a spot in the second round.

The tournament will be without a number of major names, including Rafael Nadal, Daniil Medvedev, Matteo Berrettini, and Roger Federer, who have all withdrawn owing to injury concerns.

In any other year, bookies would have been able to predict the winner with ease. However, with Djokovic mainly absent so far this season, the first two Masters 1000 tournaments of the year producing surprise winners, and traditional clay favourite Nadal not in contention, the chances have become somewhat intriguing this time around.

The ATP Masters 1000 in Monte Carlo started on Wednesday with the Round of 32. This is the first Masters 1000 of the year to be staged on clay, and many of the top players will be playing on the surface for the first time. Except for the top eight seeds, who earned byes straight into the Round of 32, the Round of 64 matches provided a peek at most players’ clay-court form. There are some intriguing upset possibilities on the docket Wednesday, with underdogs who are most comfortable on clay and favourites who aren’t, but one clear-cut favourite shouldn’t have much issue dealing with a familiar rival.

Shock for Djokovic

According to online betting company BetMGM, world No. 1 Novak Djokovic was the favourite to win the 2022 Monte-Carlo Masters. He has odds of +250 to win the event at BetMGM, which means a $100 bet on the Serb to capture the cup will yield $250 if it happens.

Carlos Alcaraz, the defending Miami Masters champion, is the second favourite, with odds of +300. The Spaniard is followed by World No. 5 Stefanos Tsitsipas (+600 odds) and World No. 3 Alexander Zverev (+800 odds).

But, now, there is a shocking twist in the odds. World number one Novak Djokovic went down to a shock defeat by Alejandro Davidovich Fokina on his return to the ATP Tour at the Monte Carlo Masters.

Since February, Djokovic was playing in his first tournament after missing the US hard court swing because of restrictions over his Covid-19 vaccination status.

Davidovich Fokina won 6-3 6-7 (5-7) 6-1 to reach the third round.

Djokovic had his serve broken nine times by his Spanish opponent.

It is the first time the 34-year-old Serb – whose last match was a quarter-final defeat in Dubai – has lost an opener at a tournament since 2018.