Novak Djokovic reveals what is driving him towards French Open glory
Novak Djokovic let his tennis do the talking, as he sidestepped political questions after a thrilling late night battle at the French Open.
Djokovic admitted he is fuelled by drama as the fall-out continued from his controversial message about Kosovo.
The French sports minister weighed into the debate on Wednesday over Djokovic’s decision to write “Kosovo is the heart of Serbia” on the camera after his first-round victory at Roland Garros.
Speaking to TV station France 2, Amelie Oudea-Castera said the message amid violence in the north of the country, which is not recognised as independent by Serbia, was not appropriate and she warned Djokovic not to repeat the action.
He told Serbian media he would do it again but, after beating Hungary’s Marton Fucsovics 7-6 (2) 6-0 6-3 in the second round, he opted just for a signature and smiley face.
At his post-match press conference, Djokovic said: “I would say it again, but I don’t need to because you have my quotes if you want to reflect on that.
“Of course I’m aware that a lot of people would disagree, but it is what it is. It’s something that I stand for. So that’s all.
“Drama-free Grand Slam, I don’t think it can happen for me. I guess that drives me, as well.”
He declined to respond to Oudea-Castera’s comments and did not confirm whether tournament director Amelie Mauresmo had discussed the matter with him, saying: “I have no more comment on that. I said what I needed to say.”
He is not expected to face any sanction from the tournament because players are not prohibited from making political statements.
Things were not straightforward on the court during an 87-minute first set when, unsettled by breezy conditions and an in-form opponent, Djokovic was pushed hard.
He double-faulted serving for the set and was pushed to a tie-break but, having overcome that hurdle, the third seed was almost flawless.
“I felt like Bambi on ice out there,” Djokovic told Eurosport.
“Wind was blowing extremely hard from one end and I thought of the Nadal and Federer exhibition match when they played one half on grass and one on class. That’s how it felt out there.
“One end was so much clay that it felt like mud, but you have to adapt to those conditions.
“Normally when the sun comes down the intensity of the wind comes down, but it wasn’t that case tonight.
“He was playing well and credit to him for fighting and playing at a high level.
“The first set was an hour and a half and it felt like two matches, the first set and then the other two.”
The final two sets of this mach against Fucsovics banished any suggestion that Djokovic is a fading force, with his brilliance rising to the surface in glorious fashion.
All the hype ahead of the French Open may have focused on world No 1 Carlos Alcaraz, but this was a display that confirmed the 22-time Grand Slam champion remains a huge threat to his rivals in this tournament.
Until Alcaraz gets the better of Djokovic in a best-of-five-set clash in one of the four big events on the tennis tour, we cannot declare the Djokovic era of dominance is at an end.
On the evidence of this second round win, Djokovic is a long way from the end of his enduring winning run.
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