‘Champion’ Novak Djokovic backed to ‘find a way’ at French Open by two-time finalist

Novak Djokovic in action

Former world No 2 Alex Corretja believes Novak Djokovic’s experience of winning the French Open could be significant at this year’s edition of the Paris major.

The two-time Roland Garros runner-up described the 22-time Grand Slam champion as “mentally like a machine” and is confident he will “find a way.”

Djokovic has not had the ideal preparation for the 2023 French Open, with an elbow injury disrupting his clay-court season.

The Serbian struggled with the issue at events in Monte Carlo and Banja Luka – where he fell to Lorenzo Musetti in the third round and Dusan Lajovic in the quarter-finals respectively.

The 36-year-old then withdrew from the Madrid Open, before losing to Holger Rune in the quarterfinals of the Italian Open last week – where he could not find his best level.

The world No 3 is a two-time Roland Garros champion, having claimed the title in Paris in 2016 and 2021. Djokovic and 2015 winner Stan Wawrinka are set to be the only former champions in the men’s draw this year following Rafael Nadal’s withdrawal.

In an interview with Eurosport, Corretja pointed to Djokovic’s success at the clay-court Grand Slam and at major-level as a whole.

“He knows how to win [at Roland-Garros], he has done it already twice and he has won so many majors, he knows how to deal with the pressure even though he didn’t have an unbelievable clay-court season,” said Corretja.

“He is going little by little and he will increase his level. He knows how to be the favourite of the tournament, and I think Novak is going to be ready to do well.

“I’m sure that he’s been preparing this season that he’s going to get to Paris and he’s going to find his peak at the tournament, and even if he struggles at some moments or whatever, he will find a way. He’s a champion.”

The Spaniard also identified the great Serbian’s ability to handle difficult moments as a reason he is among the favourites at Roland Garros.

“He knows how to deal with those moments where there are some questions. And then he will be ready for the important matches. He’s very stable, because physically he’s strong and because mentally he’s like a machine,” added the 49-year-old.

“So he knows how to deal with those moments. I think if Novak doesn’t have any issues, I’m sure he’s going to be a big contender for the title.”

The French Open begins on Sunday May 28, with the men’s final to be played on Sunday June 11.

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