Novak Djokovic was ready to avoid Grand Slams instead of taking a COVID-19 vaccine after the failure of the Australian Open, but the world number one is steaming up in a timely stop-start season to defend his French Open title.
The 20-time Grand Slam champion was unable to defend his Australian Open title in January after being deported from the country, having entered the tournament despite not having been initially vaccinated.
Djokovic started his season late in Dubai and dropped out of the top spot before retiring from Indian Wells and Miami after suffering a shock defeat to qualifier Jiri Vesel in the quarter-finals because he could not enter the United States.
Serbia risked freezing outside Roland Garros due to its vaccine location, but France achieved a withdrawal in March when it lifted restrictions on almost all public spaces.
In April, the claycourt swing produced mixed results as the 34-year-old stunned Monte Carlo and Alejandro Davidovich Fokina early in the Belgrade final before falling to red-hot Carlos Alcaraz in the Madrid semifinals earlier this month.
But after winning his first title in more than six months without dropping a set at the Italian Open last week, Djokovic showed he was one of the top contenders before his bid for the 21st Grand Slam crown to equalize with Rafa Nadal.
“To some extent it’s a relief because after what happened at the beginning of the year, winning a major title was important,” said Djokovic, who won his sixth crown in Rome and sealed his 1,000th Tour-level victory. Way
“Especially with the Grand Slams coming up, where I want to play my best and stay confident … I want to win the title.”
After beating Stefanos Sitsipas 6-0 7-6 (5) in the Rome final, Djokovic reiterated that he would use his hard work as fuel for the rest of the season in a turbulent year.
“I found what I was looking for in Rome,” said Djokovic, who also lost to world number four Sitsipas in last year’s French Open.
“It’s the perfect preparation and leadership for Roland Garros. I am going to Paris with confidence and feeling good about my prospects. The way I’ve been ranking and the way I’ve been playing over the last few weeks, I consider myself one of the favorites. ”
Nadal’s foot injury ahead of the second Grand Slam of the year may strengthen Djokovic’s claim, but the Spanish 19-year-old Alcaraz – who beat both players on the way to Madrid’s title win and looks key to great success – represents an obstacle.
“I certainly don’t spend too much time deciding who will win or who will get the best chance,” Djokovic said. “I always think about myself.
“I go there with the highest ambition ড্র obviously the draw is not something you can influence, but it will determine my course in the next phase.
“The best of the five sets, you play every second day. It’s a grand slam. It’s different … you have to approach it differently. “
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