Novak Djokovic picked up a comfortable win over Kwon Soon-woo in the second round of the Serbia Open on Wednesday. The Serb will now take on compatriot Miomir Kecmanovic in the quarterfinals of the ATP 250 event.
Djokovic had a underwhelming start to the clay season in Monte Carlo, losing to Dan Evans in the third round. And in the aftermath of his second-round win in Belgrade, the World No. 1 was asked about his shaky performance in the year's first claycourt Masters, as well as that of Rafael Nadal (who lost to Andrey Rublev in the quarterfinals).
In response, Djokovic claimed it was wrong to assume that the two of them could 'play perfectly' week in and week out.
"We have probably convinced many that we can play perfectly every week for the rest of our lives, but that is not possible," Novak Djokovic said. "There is nothing strange about that, it just happens to be a weak week, the opponent is good and that's it. Rafa and I, like Roger, have been dominant for the last 15 years."
The 33-year-old went on to assert that both he and Nadal have had to adapt to playing against a newer generation of players, which is not easy.
"You have a new generation of players, we have to adapt, to see how to progress, how to adapt our game to those who are challenging us now," Djokovic added.
Rafael Nadal and I tend to play the best in the biggest tournaments: Novak Djokovic
Rafael Nadal was again pushed hard on Wednesday, in his Barcelona second-round match against Ilya Ivashka. Nadal dropped the first set to the World No. 111, before grinding out a 3-6, 6-2, 6-4 win.
Novak Djokovic, however, claimed that he is not worried about his long-time rival's start on clay, and that it is "interesting" for the sport if the top guys lose to new players.
"I'm not too worried, especially not about Rafa on clay," Djokovic said. "One, two weak matches, that doesn't change anything. It is interesting for our sport to lose to new players, all that makes matches more interesting for the fans."
The Serb also asserted that both of them tend to bring out their best tennis when it matters the most.
"Our goal is to keep the level of the game high, but this is a sport and we both have a tendency and intention to play the best in the biggest tournaments," Novak Djokovic said. "He in Barcelona, I here in Belgrade, we have a strong myth, but it is also extra pressure. The feeling is different, we are not the only ones who play well, you have thousands of them who play well now."
Rafael Nadal will now take on Kei Nishikori in the third round at Barcelona, while Novak Djokovic faces Miomir Kecmanovic in Belgrade on Friday.