Novak Djokovic played a starring role at the ATP 250 Serbia Open in Belgrade last week. The tournament was organized by Djokovic's brother Djordje, and the World No. 1 reached the semifinals before being eliminated by Aslan Karatsev.
But there's another ATP 250 event to be held in Belgrade this year, just one week before Roland Garros. And Novak Djokovic has now been confirmed on the entry list of the Belgrade 2 tournament too, which will take place from 22 to 29 May.
Djokovic hasn't verbally confirmed his participation yet, and may well back out prior to the start given its proximity to the French Open. But there is a strong rationale behind playing the event; the 33-year-old would be able to continue training in Serbia and avoid being constrained by the bubble in Paris.
Novak Djokovic now has a crucial few weeks coming up on tour, as he is scheduled to defend his titles at the Madrid Masters and the Rome Masters over two consecutive weeks. The Serb triumphed at Madrid in 2019, and at Rome in 2020, and will be defending at least 50% of the ranking points he picked up at those two events.
Will hopefully play in Belgrade in May, but the main goal is Roland Garros: Novak Djokovic
Following his semifinal defeat at the hands of Aslan Karatsev in Belgrade on Saturday, Novak Djokovic told the media that he and his family had had a good week in Belgrade. He also claimed that he wanted to play the second edition of the event next month, but that the ultimate target was the French Open.
"It was a good week, and a successful tournament in general for us," Djokovic said. "I'll hopefully play (here) in four or five weeks again, that's the plan. Let's see if that's going to happen. But Roland Garros is the goal, that's where I want to play my best."
The Serb also acknowledged that he needed to improve his game if he hoped to win silverware at Roland Garros this year.
"Roland Garros still stays the main focus for me," Djokovic said. "(But) I need to improve, I need to play better. In order to have a chance for the trophy at Roland Garros I have to play much better than what I did today or (in) Monte Carlo."
Novak Djokovic had a remarkable fortnight in Paris last October, where he reached the final before bowing out to Rafael Nadal in straight sets. However, the World No. 1 is yet to replicate that form on clay this year.
After taking an extended break following his ninth Australian Open triumph, Djokovic returned to the tour at Monte Carlo. He lost in the third round against Dan Evans there, much to the surprise of the tennis world.