Novak Djokovic says he’s building momentum going into the French Open, having finally established a winning record this season with two victories in Rome.
After beating Nikolaz Basilashvili 6-4, 6-2 on Wednesday, the Serb is now 8-6 for the season, but he still has yet to win more than two matches in a row since having elbow surgery following the Australian Open.
Still, he says his game is improving.
“The French Open is where I want to play my best tennis,” he told press at Rome. “That’s obviously the big goal for this part of the season. But I feel like my game has been going in the right direction.
“Obviously I haven’t got too many matches and it’s not satisfying for me, and I know for the people that follow me. I know I haven’t been up to the level desired, but Madrid and the first match here has been an encouraging story.”
Match point from Djokovic’s win over Nishikori in Madrid:
Djokovic, who has won 12 Grand Slam and spent weeks at No. 1, acknowledged that it has not been easy to adjust his expectations following all his success.
“It is a mental game, for sure,” he said. “The bar has been so high. It’s not a secret. The expectations are always high in that regard. At the same time, I had to learn that because of the circumstances, the injury, the surgery and all these different things, I had to think about my game and my approach to tournaments in a little bit of a different way.
“It’s not like I don’t want to win, of course I want to win every match, but I had to understand where my game is, and [that] it’s a process to get to where I want to be in terms of level of play.”
The 30-year-old, who speaks Italian and is a big crowd favorite at Rome, says he enjoys the tournament and the conditions, and will be aiming to build his comeback further this week.
Djokovic is No. 18 in the rankings.
ATP Rome (5/13 – 5/20)
-Tennis Channel Plus features five courts of live action from the Internazionali BNL d’Italia beginning Sunday, May 13 at 5:00 am ET!