Djokovic, Chasing All Four Slams, Feels Extra Motivation
NEWS SOURCE: ATP News
Three years ago, the questions were deafening: Would this be the year that Novak Djokovic, then a three-time finalist, wins Roland Garros and completes the career Grand Slam? Only seven men had won all four major championships at the time, and Djokovic was also trying to become only the third man to hold all four majors at once.
He accomplished both, of course, beating Andy Murray in the final to ensure Roland Garros forever remains one of his most cherished tournaments.
“I love playing in Roland Garros, always throughout my career, and especially in the last four or five years. I received a lot of support from the French crowd and also the international crowd that comes here. And I think because of that support, I also managed to win this title in 2016,” Djokovic said.
Just three years later, the World No. 1 is chasing more history in Paris. The Serbian will try to become only the second man to hold all four Grand Slams at the same time twice in his career, joining Rod Laver. Djokovic would be the first to hold all four twice during the Open Era.
Players Winning Four Or More Consecutive Grand Slam Titles (All-Time)
“For me, there is an extra motivation and incentive to win Roland Garros because of the opportunity to hold all four Slams, something I did three years ago in my career, and that gives me obviously enough reason to believe I can do it again,” he said.
A year ago, Djokovic was still in the midst of his comeback from elbow surgery, which sidelined him for the final four months of the 2017 season. At Roland Garros, Djokovic was No. 22, the farthest he’d fall before again returning to No. 1, where he’d finish his 2018 season. But he didn’t return to glory in Paris, falling to Italy’s Marco Cecchinato in the quarter-finals.
“Twelve months ago, the situation was quite different. Obviously recovering from an elbow surgery, dropping out of the Top 20, and everything that I had to face on the court only 12 months ago,” Djokovic said. “Twelve months later, I hold three Slams and being No. 1 of the world, obviously it’s quite a different feeling approaching the tournament, with more confidence, and hopefully I can have a good two weeks.”
The Serbian, despite being No. 1 and having won the title, anointed 11-time champion Rafael Nadal as the “main favourite”. Nadal beat Djokovic on Sunday in the final of the ATP Masters 1000 event in Rome.
“I think it wouldn’t be fair to pick anybody else but him as the main favourite, because he has won this tournament so many times. He has lost, what, two times in his career on Parisian clay?” Djokovic said, referring to Nadal’s 86-2 record at Roland Garros.
“So lots of respect for him, obviously, as always. We had a good match in Rome. He was a better player. Was just too strong. I felt like I had a fantastic couple weeks in Madrid and Rome, and I probably ran out of gas a little bit in the finals with a couple of long matches and late-night finishes in the quarter-finals and semi-finals.”
Djokovic won the Mutua Madrid Open title the prior week, beating Greece’s #NextGenATP star Stefanos Tsitsipas in the Masters 1000 final.
“Overall, very positive weeks, and it’s a great lead-up to what’s coming up here,” Djokovic said.
POSTED ON May 24, 2019