Djokovic hoping to peak in time for French Open title defence

Tennis – ATP Masters 1000 – Italian Open – Foro Italico, Rome, Italy – May possibly 15, 2022 Serbia’s Novak Djokovic reacts all through the closing against Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas REUTERS/Guglielmo Mangiapane

Could 20 (Reuters) – Entire world quantity a person Novak Djokovic claimed his Italian Open up victory was the great time to obtain kind as he looks to keep his French Open crown following combined final results previously in the claycourt swing.

The 20-times Grand Slam winner was toppled by Alejandro Davidovich Fokina early in Monte Carlo and Andrey Rublev in the Belgrade remaining in April, ahead of he fell to teen Carlos Alcaraz in the Madrid semi-finals this thirty day period.

Not able to protect his Australian Open title because of to his refusal to be vaccinated towards COVID-19, Djokovic clinched his to start with title in a lot more than 6 months when he won in Rome very last 7 days without dropping a set.

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“This surface area is the most demanding just one… it necessitates a good deal of exertion mentally, emotionally, physically,” Djokovic explained to reporters on Friday. “For me, traditionally it has needed some time and various tournaments to actually come to feel cozy actively playing on clay.

“Hardly ever did I feel my finest on clay in the very first or second tournament in the year. That was the case this period once more. It took me two tournaments to definitely sense that I’m finding closer to the wished-for degree.

“Rome has been a pretty profitable tournament for me in my occupation, and it was truly coming at the right time. I always managed to get to the later stages of that event in just the 7 days in advance of Paris, best time to actually come across form.”

Hoping to put his turbulent commence to the period guiding him, Djokovic said 13-situations Roland Garros winner Rafa Nadal and the in-form Alcaraz were being between the favourites to earn at Roland Garros but added he was self-assured of replicating his achievement from past year.

Djokovic, who will be 35 on Sunday when he commences his title defence towards Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka, would pull level with Nadal’s haul of 21 Grand Slam titles if he wins in Paris.

“Nadal always has to be correct at the prime, due to the fact of his documents notably at this event,” Djokovic mentioned. “And then you have Alcaraz who is the story of men’s tennis in the final 4 or 5 months… He has manufactured a quantum soar forward.

“I truly feel that I am often in rivalry to struggle for any Grand Slam trophy. I feel in my own capabilities. I consider in my own talents to get significantly and to battle for one particular of the most prestigious trophies in the environment of tennis.

“As a defending champion of course extra so, (I) think I can do it once more. Reliving the memories from final yr is one thing that naturally provides me goosebumps and determination to try out to replicate that.”

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Reporting by Hritika Sharma in Bengaluru
Editing by Toby Davis

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