Novak Djokovic will be skipping the 2021 edition of the Madrid Open, if recent reports are to be believed. According to Marca, Djokovic will not join Rafael Nadal and the rest of the stars at Madrid; the Serb will instead take a short break, and get back to competitive play a couple of weeks before Roland Garros.
Djokovic was seen in action at the Serbia Open last week, where he reached the last four before losing to Aslan Karatsev in a tight three-setter. But the World No. 1 played well for most of the semifinal match, which makes his reported withdrawal from Madrid all the more surprising.
It is also pertinent to note that Novak Djokovic was expected to defend the title in Madrid this year. The COVID-19 pandemic had forced the 2020 edition of the tournament to be canceled, which means Djokovic is still the last champion at the Masters 1000 event.
The Serb will now drop 500 ranking points (rather than the usual 1,000) by not participating in this year's Madrid Open.
Novak Djokovic's withdrawal also means Rafael Nadal will be the top seed at the ATP Masters 1000 tournament. Nadal took back his World No. 2 ranking after beating Stefanos Tsitsipas in a grueling championship match at the Barcelona Open. The result earned the Spaniard 500 points, which was enough to allow him to leapfrog Daniil Medvedev in the rankings.
Novak Djokovic most likely to play Rome Masters, could also play Belgrade 2
Although Novak Djokovic's withdrawal from the Madrid Masters is unexpected, it is unlikely to affect his French Open preparations much.
The 33-year-old is almost certain to play in Rome, where he has triumphed five times in the past. The Serb is also on the entry list for the Belgrade 2 event at the moment, which will be held just one week before Roland Garros.
Having said that, Novak Djokovic's participation at his hometown event will likely depend on his performance at the Rome Masters.
The Serb will have to defend 500 points at the Foro Italico this year, given that he won the ATP Masters 1000 tournament in 2020. If Djokovic can motivate himself to go all the way in Rome, he will not be in dire need of match practice by the end of the month - thus making his Belgrade participation unnecessary.