After a sluggish start to his clay-court season, Novak Djokovic is exactly where he wants to be. (Also in Tennis)
Back at the Italian Open, his most successful clay-court competition. The top-ranked Serb has finished second and won six times in Rome.
Rome has historically been a really wonderful event for me throughout my career, Djokovic remarked on Thursday. “Hopefully it can serve, again, as a fantastic, fantastic springboard for what's coming up in Paris, where I want to play my best,” she said.
After winning Roland Garros in 2016 and 2021, Djokovic is aiming to win a third time at the clay-court Grand Slam that begins the French Open at the end of the month.
Following a three-week absence due to a persistent problem with his surgically repaired right elbow, Djokovic is making a comeback.
Djokovic suffered two early exits in his past two red clay championships.
In the Monte Carlo round of 16, Lorenzo Musetti defeated him. Then, in the quarterfinals of the Srpska Open in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Dusan Lajovic defeated him, handing him his first defeat against a fellow countryman in 11 years.
Regarding his elbow, Djokovic remarked, “It's all good.” “I mean, you constantly have little things that bug you on this level here and there. It's typical.
The day after this event concludes, Djokovic, who will be 36, said, “I guess you experience that a bit more when you're not 25 anymore, than what used to be the case.” “Recovery takes a little bit longer.”
Djokovic, who took home the Australian Open title at the beginning of the year, is obviously planning to peak around the Grand Slams.
After receiving a first-round bye, he will play his first match on Friday night against Argentine Tomas Martin Etcheverry, who earlier this year advanced to the clay finals in Houston and Santiago, Chile.
No matter how well he performs at the Foro Italico, Djokovic will lose the top spot to Carlos Alcaraz after this competition.
The second-seeded Alcaraz, who is playing in his first match in Rome, is on Djokovic's opposite side of the draw.
Djokovic and Alcaraz are competing in the same event for the first time this year, despite often exchanging the top rank.
Alcaraz missed the Australian Open owing to an injury, while Djokovic was unable to go to Miami and Indian Wells for Masters 1000 competitions because he has not had the coronavirus vaccine.
Then, Djokovic's elbow prevented him from competing in the Madrid Open. The competition was won by Alcaraz on Sunday.
We haven't been in the same draw since the start of the season, which is weird. That didn't happen because of the conditions on both sides, Djokovic remarked. He has been playing tennis at a terrific level that is quite amazing. Without a question, he is the player to beat on this surface.
Of course, everything depends on whether Rafael Nadal will compete in the French Open. Alcaraz, though, is one of the top favorites without a doubt.
As he continues to be limited by a bothersome hip issue, Nadal, who owns the record of 10 victories in Rome, is unable to compete, casting doubt on his eligibility for Roland Garros.