British no.1 Daniel Evans handed Novak first loss of 2021 in R3 of Monte Carlo, following a surprise 6-4, 7-5 win in two hours and six minutes.
Novak is a top seed and has a first-round BYE. The world no.1 will open his 2021 clay-court season campaign against Jannik Sinner (ITA, ATP #22, H2H 0-0) on Wednesday, in his first appearance since winning the historic ninth Australian Open title.
Novak has started his 311th week as the no.1 player in the men's rankings on Monday, marking an astonishing moment in tennis history and setting another record of his extraordinary career.
18-time Grand Slam champion has revealed his partial schedule for the 2021 spring season. He will next play at Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters and Serbia Open.
The world no.1 delivered one of his best performances against the fourth seed to emerge victorious in straight sets 7-5, 6-2, 6-2 and claim his 18th Grand Slam title.
Novak reached the Australian Open final for the ninth time in his career after defeating Russian qualifier Aslan Karatsev in straight sets, 6-3, 6-4, 6-2. He will now face Daniil Medvedev (RUS, 4) in Sunday's final, as he bids to win his 18th Grand Slam title.
Eight-time Australian Open winner set up a semi-final with world no.114 Aslan Karatsev (RUS, Q), following a 6-7 (6), 6-2, 6-4, 7-6 (6) comeback victory over sixth seed Alexander Zverev.
Nole beat no.14 seed Milos Raonic 7-6 (4), 4-6, 6-1, 6-4 for a place in his 12th Australian Open quarter-final. Looking to reach the last 4 in Melbourne, the defending champion will take on no.6 seed Alexander Zverev on Tuesday.