Djokovic plays his “best” tennis before Roland-Garros

MADRID (AP) — Novak Djokovic is optimistic about his match at Roland Garros despite another week without a title.

Top-ranked Djokovic is yet to win a trophy this season while trying to regain his best form after not being cleared to play at the Australian Open because he was not vaccinated against COVID-19.

Djokovic lost to sensational youngster Carlos Alcaraz in straight sets in the Madrid Open semi-final on Saturday as he bid to advance to his second straight final after losing to Andrey Rublev in Serbia last month.

Despite the loss, Djokovic said he leaves Madrid feeling good about his preparations for the upcoming French Open, where he will defend his title.

“I definitely played really good tennis, I mean the best I’ve played this year,” Djokovic said. “Probably when the disappointment of losing this game is over, I’ll have a lot of positives to take away from this week.”

Djokovic said he believes he could have picked up the win against 19-year-old Alcaraz – one of the hottest players on the tour this season – if he had been “able to capitalize when it mattered ” during the match of more than 3 1 /2 hours at the center court “Caja Mágica”.

“I had a lot of chances,” he said. “It was a fantastic match. Great battle.

The Madrid Open was only his fourth tournament of the year and his third on clay. He lost to 29th-placed Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in his Monte Carlo debut in his only other Masters 1000 appearance to date.

Djokovic did not play in Indian Wells and Miami. He will go 8-4 on the season in Rome this week, with one of those wins coming after Andy Murray withdrew from his third-round game in Madrid with a stomach ailment.

Djokovic opened his campaign in the Spanish capital with a straight-set victory over Gael Monfils. He comfortably beat Hubert Hurkacz in straight sets in the quarterfinals.

Djokovic, 34, said after the match against Monfils that it was “his best performance of the year” given that he hadn’t played well and lacked pace in the few tournaments he had played.

Djokovic had reached the quarter-finals in the only other tournament he has played in this year, losing to 72nd-placed Jiri Vesely in Dubai in February.

The objective now is to prepare to do well at Roland Garros, where he will try to win his third Roland-Garros.

“I think it’s on the right track, definitely,” he said.


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