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"I probably won't be at my best at the beginning of this week, I'm still testing my engine; Roland Garros is ultimate goal" - Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic revealed that winning Roland Garros was his ultimate aim for the 2022 clay swing
Novak Djokovic revealed that winning Roland Garros was his ultimate aim for the 2022 clay swing
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Shyam Kamal

Novak Djokovic has his sights set firmly on the French Open, where a title will put him level with Rafael Nadal in the Grand Slam race. Although the World No. 1 declared that he would be giving his best at every tournament, he made it clear that defending the Roland Garros title was his ultimate aim for the clay swing.

The Serb is set to return to action at the Monte-Carlo Masters this week after a couple of months on the sidelines. He is also expected to compete in Madrid, Rome and Serbia before the French Open.

Speaking to reporters ahead of his opener against Alejandro Davidovich Fokina at the 2022 Monte-Carlo Masters, Djokovic remarked that he was looking forward to playing a full clay season. He asserted that he would be using the lead-up tournaments in April and May to get himself in the best shape to defend his title at Roland Garros.

Novak Djokovic will start his 2022 clay season against Roland Garros quarterfinalist Alejandro Davidovich Fokina.

The 20-time Slam champion further admitted that he needs time to "really get in the groove" and find his competitive spirit. For those unaware, the 34-year-old has played only three matches so far this year, beating Karen Khachanov and Lorenzo Musetti in Dubai before falling to Jiri Vesly in the quarterfinals.

"I intend to play the full clay season according to my schedule of the previous years. I understand that I probably won't be at my best particularly at the beginning of this week, so I'm still testing my engine and building my game," Djokovic said. "It will take some time and matches to really get in the groove and find the competitive play that I really need. Roland Garros is the ultimate goal in clay court season, but of course I want to do my best in every tournament."
#Djokovic: I am testing my engine, so to say, and building my game, so it will take obviously some time, some matches to really get in the groove and find the competitive play that I really need. Roland Garros is the ultimate goal in clay court season.

The World No. 1 also conceded that he missed the competition and that he was looking forward to going toe-to-toe against the "young guys" on tour. As difficult as the last few months have been for him, the Serb hoped to forget all that and focus only on his tennis.

"Obviously I miss the competition. I still feel motivation to be on the tour and compete with young guys and try to challenge the best players in the world for the biggest titles," Djokovic said. "The last four, five months have been really challenging for me mentally and emotionally, but here I am and I try to leave all of that behind and move on."
#Djokovic: I miss competition. I still feel motivation to be on the tour and compete with young guys and try to challenge for the biggest titles. Last 4-5 months have been really challenging for me mentally and emotionally, but I will try to leave all of that behind and move on.

Novak Djokovic further added that he plans to use his title run from last year's French Open to motivate himself for this season. The 20-time Grand Slam champion had a dream run in Paris in 2021, defeating Matteo Berrettini, defending champion Rafael Nadal and Stefanos Tsitsipas on the trot to win his second Roland Garros title.

In doing so, the 34-year-old became the first male player in the history of the sport to complete the Double Career Grand Slam. Nadal has since joined him on that list.

"Clay is the surface in which I grew up in Serbia and played many years only on that surface actually, and historically hasn't been my most successful surface, but I have had some big success on clay," Djokovic said. "Of course Roland Garros win last year is still fresh in my memory, so I try to use that as an inspiration to kick-start the clay court season best possible way."

"I didn't expect myself to be No. 1 without playing many tournaments this year but I'll take it" - Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic was very pleased with the fact that he managed to remain the World No. 1 in 2022
Novak Djokovic was very pleased with the fact that he managed to remain the World No. 1 in 2022

During the press conference, Novak Djokovic also revealed that he did not expect to remain World No. 1 at this point in the season due to his lack of activity. In the same breath, however, the Serb stated that he was happy nonetheless.

#Djokovic: I didn't expect myself to be No. 1 without playing really tournaments this year, but I guess I was lucky. I'll take it. I'll try to maintain that position as much as possible.

The 20-time Grand Slam champion opined that sitting atop the world rankings was the "highest achievement" a tennis player could ask for, and promised his fans that he would do his best to hold on to the position for as long as possible.

"I'm very pleased and very happy with the [365 weeks as World No. 1] milestone, although I didn't expect myself to be No. 1 without playing many tournaments this year. I guess I was lucky but I'll take it," Djokovic said. "Being the No. 1 in the world is the highest achievement that you can have in our sport, so obviously I'll try to maintain that position as much as possible."
DID YOU KNOW❓Novak Djokovic has just kicked off his 364th career week at No. 1, which is exactly 7 years' worth of weeks at No. 1.Since first rising to No. 1 on July 4th, 2011, after winning his first Wimbledon title, Djokovic has spent 67% of the time at the top spot.

Edited by Keshav Gopalan
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