The world No. 1 has not set foot in the Caja Mágica since claiming his third Mutua Madrid Open title in 2019. Much has happened since then, but one thing that has not changed is the fact that the Masters 1000 in the Spanish capital is a key event in Novak Djokovic’s preparations for the French Open.
The Serb, one of the biggest attractions at the 20 th anniversary event, will open his campaign this Tuesday against Gael Monfils. The Frenchman beat Carlos Gimeno Valero, playing on an invitation from the #MMOPEN, in straight sets (6-3, 6-0).
Last year’s champion in Paris has already graced the clay courts of Europe this season in Monte Carlo and Belgrade, where he reached the final. “So of course playing finals is a good result and I have to be positive about it, but physically I just kind of ran out of gas. The good thing is that I managed to play four long matches, and I guess maybe that’s what kind of wore me down in the end”, admitted Djokovic.
🔥 World No. 1
🔥 Three-time champion
🔥 Fan favourite
— #MMOPEN (@MutuaMadridOpen) May 1, 2022
The Serbian is aware of the importance of his time in Madrid for the progress of his game and his confidence. “I like a lot of things about the way I was hitting the ball. Of course it’s not at the level still where I wish it to be. It is a process, and I have to be patient. Hopefully things will progress in the right direction also this week”, said the man with 20 Grand Slam titles under his belt.
Djokovic also knows how important it is to be mentally ready to arrive at the biggest events on tour performing his best. “I feel like the more I play, the more I’m in this environment, the more comfortable I feel. So I’m happy that I’m back on track in terms of having clarity in terms of where I can peak and where I want to peak. So hopefully I will be able to get the best out of myself, particularly in Grand Slams”, clarified the leader of the ATP rankings.
The three-time #MMOPEN champion (2011, 2016 & 2019) is optimistic about the short term after a week off since his participation in the Serbian capital and he hopes to produce a performance in keeping with his number-one seeding. “Knowing that I played four almost-three-hour matches gives me enough reason to believe that it’s headed in the right direction. I had a very good week of training now, I put more emphasis on fitness and building stamina and endurance, because that’s what’s going to be necessary in order to compete with top guys on the slowest and physically most demanding surface”, he ended.