The red and white flag flies high and proud over the prince’s palace, fringed by the light lapping of the waves of the Mediterranean. With the return of spring, birds frolicking and pollen tickling the nostrils of the most sensitive, the little protégés of the Principality make the Rock shine again. Two wins in three races for Charles Leclerc in Formula 1, the ASM still in contention for a European spot in L1 and the start of the Monte-Carlo Masters 1000, which actually takes place in Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, France.
The highlight was the participation in the running this Tuesday of the local stage. No, not Monegasque Lucas Catarina, wildcard beneficiary, who will try to face off against Taylor Fritz, recent winner of the Indian Wells Masters 1000. We are of course talking about Novak Djokovic, resident on the Rock since 2007, holder of the “Legendary” Vermilion Medal for Physical Education and Sports, awarded by his serene highness personally in 2012, finally returning to a major tournament after his stormy Australian delivery.
In Monaco for those seeking tranquility
But even if he lives in a residential building with a sea view, Avenue de la Princesse Grace, the Serb isn’t the type to harass the neighborhood because the kids are jumping on everything. “He lives in Monaco, but as a tennis player he spends most of his time on the road, playing tournaments all over the world,” said Guillaume Couillard, captain of the Monegasque Davis Cup team. Between certain tournament tours, he comes back punctually, a few days a year, but not too much either. †
A kind of ideal second home, with sun, sea, mountains and above all tranquility. “You have what you want in Monaco, everything has to be released,” Djokovic said in an interview with the ATP ten years ago. The most important thing for the top players is to have everything to be quiet. Example: Nole can go for a walk with his dog and his kids along the beach, visit the oceanographic museum, or go to a small patio without being chased by a mob looking for an autograph. “He has already come to drink coffee or something else, but we still see him very rarely”, we are assured on the side of the Neptune Monaco Beach, a few steps from the house of the world’s number 1.
Launched a gluten-free restaurant and then closed
Not really more sympathetic, other establishments can’t remember seeing Djokovic set foot on their ground. “He was less present here in recent months, because the health measures in France and Monaco were still drastic, with the health and vaccination pass,” continues the tennis player. He was a bit stuck, not allowed to go to a tennis club, nor to the gyms. He was previously in Serbia, where he was calmer. Add to that the Larvotto beach work for a year and a half and Monaco had turned into an Alcatraz prison with no bars.
Novak Djokovic couldn’t even take refuge at Eqvita, the (gluten-free) restaurant he founded in 2016 with his wife Jelena. There you could taste, thus the Parisian, mushroom risotto cakes or vitelotte potato gnocchi. But the establishment closed a few years later. And to follow his drastic regime, the Djoker relied on local stores, such as the To be Monte Carlo – Bio Organic Health Store. “He never came in person, he sent people even though they were never the same,” reads the side of the sign, which is also on Avenue de la Princesse Grace. In his shopping cart we find “classic, pasta and also proteins”. crispy.
“He does simple things with great accuracy”
A little less than the training he does at the Monte-Carlo Country Club: “Either his trainer contacts me, or he warns the ATP offices, who have a building 100 meters from the club, that he will arrive and then I’m asked if there are any hanging out partners available for training,” says Guillaume Couillard. He’s a little late every time, but it’s not just with us. He does very simple things, with a lot of accuracy and commitment. It’s a great exercise for our players, which replaces a match in the investment. »
Djokovic also uses the facilities of the Monte-Carlo Country Club for his physical and bodybuilding sessions. And, on rare occasions, go to the Thermes Marins Monte-Carlo Monaco: “He doesn’t come every day, but we are the only establishment that offers this kind of treatment”, we are told. On the program sports massages, relaxation, hydromassage treatments, cryotherapy. He can then quietly parade in the Louis-II stadium to play a benefit match for the Formula 1 GP or even kick off an ASM match, as he did in 2013, against Clermont, in Ligue 2. Yes, not everything shines all the time in Monaco.