Hours after finding out his beloved grandfather, Vladimir, had died, Novak Djokovic battled back from a one-set deficit to defeat Alexandr Dolgopolov at the Monte Carlo Open, 2-6, 6-1, 6-4. The world No. 1 was on a practice court earlier in the day when he received the news and left the court in tears.
Djokovic had lived with his Vladimir during the 1999 bombings in Serbia and credited him with having a great influence on his career. After his win in Thursday's third-round match, Djokovic raised both hands to the sky and wept.
A recent "60 Minutes" piece included a clip of Novak visiting with his grandfather at his apartment in Belgrade. The world No. 1 spoke about how his grandfather, parents, brothers, aunts and uncles lived in the two-bedroom flat during the 78-day campaign. Cameras showed the basement bomb shelter where they'd retreat when air raid sirens sounded.
Last month, Djokovic tweeted about his grandfather's influence after a win in Miami. "I wanted to dedicate this title to my grandfather Vladimir, who is always sending me lots of positive energy," he wrote. "He is my hero and a fighter. He thought [sic] me since i was young to never give up."
Canal+ captured video of Djokovic walking off the court after hearing of his grandfather's death via cell phone. It's a sad sight.
Djokovic didn't talk to the press after the match and it's unknown if he'll remain in Monte Carlo for the rest of the week. He is seeking his first title at the clay court event. If he's to win one for his "deda," he'll likely have to beat Rafael Nadal, who hasn't lost in the event since 2003.