George Russell with a message for Novak Djokovic after Monte Carlo meeting

Kevin Palmer
George Russell with Novak Djokovic
George Russell with Novak Djokovic

Formula 1 star George Russell was a glamorous addition to the crowd at the Monte Carlo Masters – and he had a message for Novak Djokovic after watching him win his second round match.

Novak Djokovic made short work of beating Ivan Gakhov 7-6(5) 6-2 in the second round to book his place in the last 16 in his first match for more than a month.

His performance was appreciated by Mercedes driver Russell, who decided to take advantage of his status as a Monaco resident by making the short trip from his home to watch Djokovic in action.

The pair exchanged some words after the match, with Russell asking Djokovic how he felt the match had gone.

“It was good. It’s a solid start, but it could always be better,” Djokovic responded. “Perfection is, that level, you’re looking to get better, to improve.”

Russell went on to suggest the scheduling of match in tennis must be a problem for players as he said: “What I find so difficult for you guys is especially when you play second or third or fourth, you never know timings.”

Djokovic responded: “It’s challenging and today I waited maybe an hour and a half or two hours more than I expected. So then you’re like, ‘Should I be warming up or cooling down’ and that makes you a bit anxious.”

The duo also spoke about adapting to time changes when they move between continents for their sporting commitments, with the Serbian interested in the contrast between his life and that of a Formula 1 star.

Russell attended Djokovic’s match with investment broker girlfriend Carmen Montero Mundt, with the cameras flashing as the duo arrived at the tennis centre.

While Russell clearly admires Djokovic, he admitted he was a big fan of Roger Federer when he was growing up watching tennis.

“I really enjoy watching tennis. I always watch the big games. I think Roger was always the one who I followed the most,” he stated.

“He came to the Barcelona Grand Prix last year and he’s always given us so much time.

“I went to the Laver Cup as well, I don’t think I’ve seen Djokovic play before so it is exciting to see him in action.”

Djokovic spoke to the media after his opening match and admitted clay is the surface that he finds most challenging to find is feet on.

“Clay surface for me is the most challenging surface to adapt, to get into rhythm,” said the world No 1.

“Maybe for some other guys it’s more natural, the movement, the ball striking, in a way finding the right tempo on the shots. For me, it just takes more than some other guys. That’s how it is, how it always was.”

“Match play is what I need. Practice points is something that helps, but nothing helps as [much as] playing an official match. So that’s why I’m hoping I can have as many matches as possible this week.

“I’m really glad I overcame the first step, because I hope things will be better and easier from this point onwards.”

READ MORE: Novak Djokovic has Paris in the back of his mind – ‘Roland-Garros is the ultimate goal’