Why Serbian Djokovic feels at home in Geneva

The 98-time tour-level titlist turns 37 on Wednesday

May 21, 2024
Novak Djokovic is the top seed at the Gonet Geneva Open.
Mike Hewitt/Getty Images
Novak Djokovic is the top seed at the Gonet Geneva Open. By ATP Staff

Though this week marks Novak Djokovic's first appearance at the Gonet Geneva Open, the top seed will feel right at home on Swiss soil.

The Serbian’s close friend, Neven Markovic, who was the best man in Djokovic’s wedding, used to play for the local football club Servette FC. Djokovic, who will celebrate his 37th birthday Wednesday, the same day he faces Yannick Hanfmann in the second round, also has family in Geneva.

“[Neven] was playing for Servette about 12, 13 years ago. And so that was the first time that I came to see Servette and I supported him,” Djokovic said in a press conference Tuesday. “Yesterday I came together with my family that lives here, because my little cousin is getting married to a player of Servette. So that's where the connection is now. That's why I'm supporting the club and I was there with them supporting him. It was a nice experience.

“I have family cousins that [have lived] here for a long time. So I have been visiting them in the past, several times. And I was practising in Geneva as well a few times, but never played the tournament. I also never visited this club, it is definitely one of the nicest ones that I've seen in the world. The park is stunning. The view of the lake is incredible. So just overall, I feel very happy to be here.”

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The World No. 1 in the PIF ATP Rankings is competing at the clay-court ATP 250 as a wild card. Holding a modest 12-5 season record by his standards, Djokovic is hungry to start a season turnaround this week in Switzerland before beginning his quest for a 25th major title at Roland Garros.

“The reason why I chose to come and play is because I feel like at this moment, there is no better practice for me than match play,” said Djokovic, who is one victory shy of 1,100 tour-level match wins. “I feel like I need more matches, even if it's one match, two matches, three, four hopefully. It's good for me, because that's the way for me to try to find that kind of form that I need for Roland Garros.”

Aiming for his first trophy of the season, the 98-time tour-level titlist has been working hard to return to the level he knows he is capable of.

“In terms of fitness, I've dedicated quite a bit of time with my new fitness coach to build the endurance, to build physical strength and capabilities that I need in order to play a best-of-five Grand Slam on the physically most demanding surface, which is clay," Djokovic said. "So hopefully I'm going to get more than one match here in Geneva, that's the goal and then let's see what happens in Paris.”

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