Tennis: Djokovic says French Open bid on track despite Madrid hiccup

Reuters, Sunday 13 May 2012

Swapping the slippery blue clay of Madrid for the robust Roman dust, Novak Djokovic says he is "right where I want to be" as he chases French Open glory later this month

Novak Djokovic

Vowing not to return to Madrid next year unless the heavily-criticised surface is improved, Djokovic said he was relieved to be back on a surer footing.

"After that blue clay, this clay seems like paradise," the world number one told a press conference at the Rome Masters, where this week he will try to defend his title.

Victory at the French Open would give Djokovic a fourth consecutive grand slam title and the Serb shrugged off suggestions that a quarter-final defeat in Madrid was any cause for concern.

"I don't think my preparation for Rome and Roland Garros are being disturbed because I feel that I have been practising very hard in the last five weeks," he said.

"Under the circumstances, I played a very good tournament in Monte Carlo," added Djokovic, who reached the final despite learning of the death of his grandfather during the tournament.

"I had a couple of weeks off after that to still work. I'm physically fit and ready for the challenges to come.

"I want to think about Rome only in this moment. I want to do well and then of course going to Roland Garros, which is one of the top priorities for me this year."

Having won three grand slam titles in 2011 and forged clear at the top of the world rankings, Djokovic admitted he set himself almost impossible standards to repeat this year.

But his victory in the Australian Open set up the chance to complete the "Djokovic Slam" and the Serb said he was determined to do everything he can to make it possible.


"Expectations and pressure are part of our professional sport and I think I have enough experience to know how to approach every grand slam and every tournament," he said.

"I have played so many big matches on the big stage and I just love the challenge - love being in this situation."

"Physically and mentally I am fine. I am right there where I was last year, I feel confident. I am where I always wanted to be, number one in the world."

Djokovic, who will begin his title bid against either Bernard Tomic of Australia or a qualifier, has Roger Federer, the winner on Sunday in Madrid, in his half of the draw.

If the seedings go to plan, the second semi-final would pit French Open champion Rafa Nadal against Britain's Andy Murray.

Murray confirmed he is fully fit again after a back injury caused him to miss Madrid, a decision, he said, that was greeted with humour by his fellow players.

"From what the players have been saying to me here, it was the best decision to make," he said. "Everyone's been applauding me for not playing, saying 'you're much smarter than me'.

"It's good, with the French Open just a couple of weeks away, I'm not going to have to make adjustments like the guys coming from Madrid will."  

(For more sports news and updates, follow Ahram Online Sports on Twitter:@AO Sports)

Short link: