Former World No. 1 Novak Djokovic has accepted a wild card to participate at this weeks’s Barcelona Open Banc Sabadel in an effort to accumulate match fitness following last year’s season-ending elbow injury. The Tournament organizers broke the news on Friday, a day after Djokovic lost to Dominic Thiem at the Rolex Monte Carlo Masters.
The 12-time Grand Slam winner will make a first appearance at the event since 2006, and he will be joined by rival Rafael Nadal, who is seeking an historic 11th title in Barcelona.
Djokovic will be playing in just his 5th tournament since Wimbledon 2017 when he retired hurt, and there is belief in his camp that he is making significant progress. The Serb looked sharp and fit in Monte Carlo, and in spite of a tight three set loss to Dominic Thiem, there were positive signs that he will be competitive again. The former World No. 1 also took the decision to rehire former coach Marian Vajda as part of his backroom team following his short stint with Andre Agassi. It was under Vajda whom Djokovic flourished to be the most dominant player in the last decade. Whether that form will be reachable for the Serb once more is a case for concern but one which Djokovic is very capable of pulling off.
After two calamitous defeats during the American hardcourt season, Djokovic won his first match since the Australian Open in January, when he beat Dusan Lajovic in Monte Carlo. He followed that win with an impressive straight sets win over Croatia’s Borna Coric. His defeat to Thiem in round three prevented a blockbuster meeting with Nadal. That may change though as the pair are set for a semifinal collision in Barcelona. The Barcelona Open, which is an ATP 500 Tour level event, will contain a strong field of top players including Nadal, Djokovic, Thiem, Grior Dimitrov, and David Goffin.