"Novak Djokovic is going to need matches to find the rhythm" - Michael Llodra

The Serb lost his first-round encounter at the 2021 Monte-Carlo Masters
The Serb lost his first-round encounter at the 2021 Monte-Carlo Masters
Subhashish Majumdar

Novak Djokovic hasn't had the best of seasons thus far and will be looking to get back to winning ways at the Madrid Open. The Serb, who is a three-time champion in Madrid, lost the final of the recently-concluded Serbia Open to Andrey Rublev.

The World No. 1 missed the 2022 Australian Open and the rest of the early-season hardcourt swing that followed due to his unvaccinated status. The Serb lost in the quarterfinals in Dubai and failed to get past the second round at the Monte-Carlo Masters.

In Belgrade, the Serb dropped the first set of all his matches en route to the final, where he was bageled by Rublev in the decider.

Olympic silver-medalist and three-time doubles Grand Slam winner Michael Llodra opined that Djokovic needs to play more matches prior to the French Open if he is to make a mark at Roland Garros. Llodra, who is now a tennis expert with France Televisions, stated that champions like Djokovic generally do not have much trouble finding their form.

"Djokovic is still there, but he lacks matches and benchmarks. We saw that in Monte-Carlo and Belgrade. But with these champions, it can come back very quickly. He's going to need matches to find the rhythm," Llodra said.

Tracing the run-ups to Novak Djokovic's best years at Roland-Garros

Djokovic poses with the 2021 French Open trophy
Djokovic poses with the 2021 French Open trophy

Novak Djokovic is a six-time finalist at Roland Garros.

The Serb first made his first French Open final in 2012 and lost to Rafael Nadal. Djokovic also made it to the final in Monte-Carlo and Rome that year, losing to the Spaniard both times.

Djokovic lost two French Open finals in a row to Rafael Nadal and Stan Wawrinka in 2014 and 2015 respectively before finally winning the title in 2016 by getting past Andy Murray.

Novak Djokovic won his first-ever French Open title in 2016
Novak Djokovic won his first-ever French Open title in 2016

Novak Djokovic had encouraging results in at least one of the claycourt tournaments that preceded runs to the French Open final from 2014 to 2016.

Troubled by a wrist injury, the Serb lost in the semifinals of the Monte-Carlo Open in 2014 before going on to win the title in Rome.

The Serb triumphed at Monte-Carlo for the second time in his career in 2015 when he beat Tomas Berdych in the final before bagging the Italian Open title by getting past Roger Federer. Novak Djokovic lost to Stan Wawrinka in the final of the French Open after prevailing over Nadal in the quarterfinals.

Djokovic and Murray met thrice on clay in 2016, with the Serb winning in Madrid and the French Open and the Brit triumphing in Rome.

Before winning the French Open last year, Djokovic lost in the third round of the Monte-Carlo Masters and in the semifinals of the Serbia Open.

Novak Djokovic then advanced to the final of the Italian Open where he lost to Nadal before beating the Spaniard in the semifinals at Roland-Garros en route to a second French Open title.

The 20-time Grand Slam winner did not take part in the Madrid Open last year but is defending 500 points from when he won the event in 2019.

Edited by Keshav Gopalan


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