© Corinne Dubreuil/ATP Tour

Doubles partners Marcelo Melo and Alexander Zverev with football star Neymar in Monte Carlo on Monday.

Neymar Meets Djokovic, Zverev, Melo In Monte Carlo

World No. 1 tests football skills with Brazilian superstar

Novak Djokovic took a break from his preparations for the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters on Monday, but only to test his skills on the football pitch. To do so, he enlisted the help of a pair of fellow champions, Paris Saint-Germain superstars Neymar and Marco Verratti.

Djokovic joined in with a quick game of ‘keepie-uppies’ with the duo. The 20-time Grand Slam champion is a keen football fan and could have picked worse teammates on this occasion — Neymar is one of the most renowned names in world football and has scored 71 goals for Brazil’s national team, while Italy’s Verratti is known as one of Europe’s most skillful and tenacious midfielders.

Neymar and Verratti are two of the most high-profile stars from the top division of French football, Ligue 1. Paris Saint-Germain, based in the French capital, have won seven of the past nine league championships, with Neymar and Verratti spearheading their rise to one of the top clubs in Europe.

Wild card doubles pairing Marcelo Melo and Alexander Zverev also caught up with Neymar. Former World No. 1 doubles star Melo will hope the time spent with his countryman can inspire him to a 10th Masters 1000 title this week — the Brazilian has never lifted the trophy in Monte-Carlo. Meanwhile Zverev is seeking a maiden singles title at the only clay-court Masters 1000 event he is yet to win.

Djokovic is a four-time finalist in Monte-Carlo and kicks off his 2022 campaign against World No. 46 Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in the second round on Tuesday.

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