Novak Djokovic is gearing up for his campaign at the 2022 Madrid Open, where he will play his first match on Tuesday.
The World No. 1 was seen hitting the practice courts on Saturday with Pablo Carreno Busta to fine-tune his groundstrokes.
Djokovic will be competing at the Madrid Open for the first time since 2019, when he won the tournament after beating Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-3, 6-4 in the final. The event was canceled in 2020 owing to COVID-19 and the Serb opted not to participate in 2021 as he wanted to recharge his batteries ahead of Roland Garros.
"It has nothing to do with the feeling of the ball or physics at all, it's more psychological" - Andrey Rublev on Novak Djokovic
Novak Djokovic has suffered a stop-start season as the Serb's unwillingness to take the COVID-19 vaccine has affected his ability to partake in tournaments throughout the year.
Djokovic looked rusty throughout his campaign at the Serbia Open and lost to Andrey Rublev in the final. Speaking in an interview with sports news outlet Championat, Rublev said Djokovic's problems were "more psychological."
"It has nothing to do with the feeling of the ball or physics at all. It's more psychological," Rublev said. "When you're under pressure, you don't know if you'll be able to play at all or not. Then the Covid rules are abruptly abolished, you understand that there will be an opportunity to play the season."
Djokovic is still World No. 1 despite not winning a tournament this year. Injuries to Rafael Nadal and Daniil Medvedev have halted their conquest to regain the top ranking spot.
Nadal will return to action at the Madrid Open but Medvedev remains out after undergoing a hernia procedure last month. Second seed Alexander Zverev will look to bounce back after a disappointing start to the season, making it a competitive field in Madrid.
Djokovic won't have it easy from the start, considering the likes of Casper Ruud, Hubert Hurkacz and Denis Shapovalov are in his section of the draw. The World No. 1 has won the Madrid Open on three occasions (2011, 2016 and 2019).