Novak Djokovic

Djokovic: 'My expectations are not very high'

Serbian chasing third title in the Principality
April 06, 2024
Novak Djokovic is the top seed in Monte-Carlo.
Corinne Dubreuil/ATP Tour
Novak Djokovic is the top seed in Monte-Carlo. By ATP Staff

Is this the week Novak Djokovic regains his best level?

The Serbian arrives at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters holding an 8-3 record on the season and has struggled at times, falling in the semi-finals at the Australian Open and the third round in Indian Wells.

It is just the second time in six years that the World No. 1 has arrived in Monte-Carlo having not won a title earlier in the season. With confidence lower, Djokovic is lowering his expectations ahead of the clay-court ATP Masters 1000 event.

“My expectations are not very high, with the way I have been playing this year at the tournaments and also the results that I had in Monaco in previous years were not great, so I keep my expectations low,” Djokovic said. “For me it is about building my game on clay courts and trying to reach the peak again.

“For some players like myself, requires a little more time to reach the top level of tennis. Earlier in my career I was doing better in Monte-Carlo. I won titles in 2013 and 2015, quite a long time ago. The last five or six editions here have not been that successful and I am always hoping that could change. I am going into the tournament with enthusiasm and excitement that I am here. I didn’t play in Miami, so had extra time to practise on clay and get my body and game adjusted to this surface so let’s see how it goes.”

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Djokovic is a two-time champion in Monte-Carlo, having won titles in 2013 and 2015. While he has failed to advance beyond the quarter-finals in seven appearances since 2015, the 36-year-old enjoys playing at the event.

“I always love playing in Monte-Carlo. It has been a residence of mine for many years. Both of my children were born in Monte-Carlo, so I consider it a home and a place where I spend countless hours of training in this club,” Djokovic said. “I know people working on the courts and it feels comfortable. It is added pressure when you want to play your best in a home environment. Also the fact that clay is the most demanding surface in my sport.”

Djokovic won’t have former coach Goran Ivanisevic in his corner this week after the pair split at the end of March. The Serbian spent six years with Ivanisevic and won 12 major titles with the Croatian.

“We just both felt that we gave each other in this relationship the maximum and it was time to move on. It is very simple,” Djokovic said. “He remains one of the most successful coaches in the history of the game, what we have done is something that can’t be deleted. The results and history speak for itself and he remains a good friend of me and my family.”

Djokovic will begin his Monte-Carlo campaign against Roman Safiullin or a qualifier. He is seeded to meet second seed Jannik Sinner in the title match and was full of praise for the Italian on Saturday.

"Jannik is the best player in the world this year so far,” Djokovic said. “He has had tremendous success. He has improved a lot. Overall his game, his serve, his movement and mentally he is always there. In the important matches the difference of Jannik in the past six months and before that is he is winning the big matches. He learned from his experiences before and made himself a tougher player. More of a big time player.”

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