Djokovic Eyes Opportunity In Madrid
World No. 1 aims for second Madrid title
Novak Djokovic holds a commanding lead over the rest of the field in the Emirates ATP Rankings. For the World No. 1, the Mutua Madrid Open represents a rare opportunity to further increase the gap between himself and the rest of the ATP World Tour.
“Last time I was in Madrid was three years ago. I missed being in the city. I missed being a part of this tournament,” Djokovic, who had not hit a ball in Madrid since 2013, said. “Unfortunately, in 2014 I was prevented from coming here because of an injury. Last year, it was a scheduling decision.
“But I'm glad to be back, because this is definitely one of the biggest tournaments, and especially on this particular surface.”
With nothing to defend and up to 1000 Emirates ATP Rankings points to gain, Djokovic is excited to kick-start his clay-court campaign after an unexpected second-round loss against Jiri Vesely at the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters. “I didn't do that well in Monte-Carlo, so I hope I can have a few more matches during this week.
“The conditions are quite different in Madrid compared to those of other tournaments. It's high altitude and the ball flies through the air very quickly. You have to adjust to those particular conditions, so I'm glad that I arrived earlier. I’ve had some very good practice sessions and I'm just hoping to get the best out of myself this week.
“I’ve practised three times here already. I'm going to play my first match on Wednesday, so it's going to get better every day, I hope. I'm working towards that. Let's see what happens.”
In 2011, Djokovic defeated Rafael Nadal in the final to earn his lone Madrid title to date. This year, he is playing for a chance to move ahead of the Spaniard with a record 29th ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title.
“I think Rafa is everybody's main rival on clay courts because of his history on this surface and the results that he’s had throughout his career,” Djokovic said. “This year, he's already showing a much higher quality of tennis. He really played terrifically in both Monte-Carlo and Barcelona. I'm sure he's very motivated to do well here on his favourite surface. He's definitely the player to beat.”
Despite his respect for Nadal’s game, Djokovic refuses to downplay his own chances in Madrid.
“I've always had very high expectations of myself. Knowing that I won this tournament in 2011 and that I’ve played couple of semi-finals and had good tournaments in the past in Madrid gives me a reason to believe that I can do well.
“Of course, I'm quite a different player today than I was three years ago or five years ago. I think I’m more confident on the court and physically and mentally more mature than I was in 2011, even if that year was one of the best seasons I've had.”