Novak Djokovic is promising a return to form after what he admits is a slow start to the season following his 6-4, 1-6, 6-4 ouster on Saturday from the Monte Carlo Masters semi-finals.

The world number one fell to Norway’s casper Ruud in a re-run of last spring’s Roland Garros final won by the Serb. Djokovic had won all five of his meetings with Ruud prior to meeting on the clay of the principality.

“Not having a title is – compared to the last 15 years – not a great season at all,” said the 24-time Grand Slam champion who has entered just four events in the first quarter of the year.

“It’s normal to expect that you have some seasons where you don’t start well – this is the one.

“Hopefully I can pick up, in terms of results, I canĀ build from here.

The Serb double-faulted on a third match point for Ruud, twice a finalist at Roland Garros.

Djokovic was denied a 59th Masters final by Ruud who will meet Stefanos Tsitsipas in the Sunday final.

“I’m super-happy, this is a day I will remember for a really long time,” Ruud said. “I’m still in a little bit of shock.”

Ruud broke in the final game after Djokovic saved two match points before his costly double-fault.

“I was up and he came back, the top guys are good under pressure,” Ruud said. “I was just hoping the match would not slip away.

“In the last game I was hoping something or someone up above was listening… I was so happy to see that last ball sail along.” 

“Stef will be tough in the final but I will give it my all.”