MONTE CARLO: Novak Djokovic said he hopes to hit the ground running at Monte Carlo having begun preparations for the clay season early after the world number one was forced to skip tournaments in the United States last month. Djokovic, 35, who is unvaccinated against COVID-19, was unable to enter the country after unsuccessfully applying to the USA government for special permission to play at Indian Wells and Miami. The Australian Open champion, who last competed in early March, said his enforced absence from the Tour helped him focus on Monte Carlo, where he lost in the second round last year. “I’ve done more training on clay, which is positive if you think about the clay season,” said Djokovic. “I’ve not had much success in Monte Carlo in the past two seasons.” With Rafa Nadal skipping Monte Carlo due to injury, Djokovic will also look to build momentum ahead of the French Open where the Serbian will target a 23rd Grand Slam to go ahead of the Spaniard. Djokovic said home comforts could prove helpful is his quest for a record-extending 39th Masters 1000 crown at Monte Carlo.