Roland Garros

Djokovic’s mentality at Roland Garros: “Little expectations and high hopes”

The No. 1 assesses his form upon arrival in Paris

May 26, 2024

Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Novak Djokovic will play Pierre-Hugues Herbert in the first round of Roland Garros.
By Staff

Novak Djokovic has performed below his usual level this season. The No. 1 in the PIF ATP Rankings arrives at Roland Garros without titles in 2024 and with a balance of 14-6, but continues to appear in the clay Grand Slam as one of the main favorites.

“Little expectations and great hopes,” said the Serbian this Sunday, between smiles, in his pre-tournament press conference.

What are these expectations for the Balkan player at 37 years old? ‘Few’ is relative.

“I’m even a little embarrassed to value my expectations. Nothing short of a title will be satisfactory, it’s always been that way. I know I may sound arrogant to many people, but I think I have a career to back it up,” Djokovic said. “In a way, if I continue playing at the highest level, one of my biggest motivations is to try to write more history in sport and win the biggest titles. Paris is, without a doubt, one of them.”

“That’s why my hopes and goals are always the same, but I have to have lower expectations. I mean, I shouldn’t rush through the tournament and think about who I could face in later rounds, but go day by day, step by step, building my game. I have suffered with this, without being able to play regularly at a good level.”

Djokovic admitted that his unstable start to the season has ended up affecting him. The first seed is used to competing at the end of tournaments, fighting for trophies practically every time he competes. Now, he finds himself locked in a battle with Jannik Sinner to retain No. 1 in the PIF ATP Rankings.

“That’s why I have this thought, I have to be focused on the daily work, trying to build my form,” Djokovic said. “That way I can have a better chance of going far in the tournament.”

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Despite his lukewarm start to 2024, the Serbian can take advantage of his experience at Roland Garros. The 24-time Grand Slam champion has lifted the Musketeers Cup three times.

“I know what I am capable of, especially in Grand Slams I play my best tennis. At least I always seek to display my best level, and in most of my career I have managed to do so, that is the goal,” said Djokovic. “I have said for a long time that, on clay, I want to reach my maximum in Paris, at Roland Garros. Last year I had an incredible season, especially here at Roland Garros. Hopefully I can have a great tournament.”

The reigning champion has previously found himself in difficult situations. In 2018, he underwent elbow surgery before climbing to world No. 1 at the close of the season. Djokovic has always overcome those types of obstacles.

“There are stones in the road. I have always looked forward, facing my next challenge, and looking for what I need to be better than the previous week. That is the mentality that I have worked on and continue to have. I will not abandon it until I stop playing to professional tennis,” Djokovic said. “It’s the only way I know to handle myself as a professional tennis player to compete at the highest level.”

For now, the 98-time champion remains focused on what’s ahead – his first round at Roland Garros.

“I know exactly what I need to do in a Grand Slam environment, in Grand Slam competition.”


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