Novak Djokovic prepares to battle next generation at French Open
It appears that Novak Djokovic is set to battle a group of young players for the French Open title this season.
Djokovic faces the prospect of not having long-time rival Rafael Nadal in the field.
However, Djokovic has acknowledged that the next generation of players are here and ready to win Grand Slams.
He made the comments after 20-year-old Holger Rune ended his Rome Masters winning streak on Wednesday.
Djokovic says that he is happy to see that the game has stars emerging who can take the sport forward.
“Yeah, obviously, a new generation is here already,” Djokovic said when asked about the prospect of a new French Open winner.
“I mean, Alcaraz is No. 1 in the world from Monday. Obviously he’s playing amazing tennis. I think it’s also good for our sport that we have new faces, new guys coming up. It’s normal.
“We’ve been saying this for years, that we can expect it to come, that moment to come when you have kind of shift of generations.
“I’m personally still trying to hang in there with all of them. I’m happy with – of course, very happy with – my career so far.
“I still have the hunger to keep going. Let’s see how far I’m going to play.”
Djokovic feels that he has an edge when it comes to the five-set battles of Grand Slams.
“Nothing,” Djokovic said when asked what else he needed to do to prepare for the French Open.
“I mean, just training and getting ready for the most important tournament of the clay season for me.
“I know I can always play better.
“Definitely am looking forward to working on various aspects of my game, of my body, hopefully getting myself in 100% shape. That’s the goal.
“I always like my chances in Grand Slams against anybody on any surface, best-of-five. Let’s see how it goes.”
Djokovic felt that the slow courts made it harder for him to hit winners against Rune but gave credit to the Dane for thoroughly outplaying him in Rome.
“Yeah, I mean, slower conditions these days,” Djokovic said.
“I think this is probably the coldest and wettest tournament I’ve ever played here in Rome. I don’t really recall so many days in a row raining.
“Obviously in these kind of conditions, it’s very difficult to get the ball past him. He’s very, very fast, very quick. Great anticipation. Just a very talented, dynamic player, all-around player.
“Yeah, he was just better. He played too good for me for most part of the match.
“I did have a bad start of the third set. I think that’s where match kind of shifted to his side. He kept his nerves and deserved to win.”
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