Djokovic wants to 'lower expectations' after tough start to season

By Sports Desk May 26, 2024

Novak Djokovic admits he needs to "lower the expectations" as he prepares to defend his French Open title.

The Serbian has failed to reach a final so far in 2024, having fallen at the semi-final hurdle in Australia, Monte-Carlo, and most recently Geneva with a defeat to Tomas Machac.

Djokovic also suffered shock defeats to Alejandro Tabilo in Rome and world number 123 Luca Nardi at Indian Wells in the round of 32.

Despite questions surrounding his recent form, the 24-time Grand Slam winner is looking to draw on his vast experience to end his trophy drought this season.

"I would say that I know what I'm capable of, and particularly in the Grand Slams I normally play the best tennis, at least I aim always to play the best tennis, and I was most of my career able to do that, so that's the goal," said Djokovic on his arrival in France.

"I have been saying, you know, for quite a while that in terms of clay, I want to peak here in Paris, in Roland Garros. Last year I had an amazing year, and particularly here in Roland Garros, and hopefully, I can have a great tournament.

"My hopes and goals are always the same, but I have to lower the expectations. When I say that I mean, you know, maybe not thinking too much ahead in advance in terms of the tournament and who I might face in the later rounds, but really taking it day by day, step by step, and really building my game.

"Because that's what I have really been struggling with, not really playing in a consistently good level."

Djokovic will play French wildcard Pierre-Hugues Herbert in the first round on Tuesday. 

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    The 24-time grand slam champion will target a gold medal for the first time, with his appearance in Paris set to be his fifth at the Olympics.

    Djokovic won a 2008 bronze medal in Beijing after losing to eventual winner Rafael Nadal in the semi-finals before beating James Blake for third place.

    He came fourth at London 2012 after suffering defeats to Andy Murray and Juan Martin del Porto in the final stages and lost early at Rio 2016 before narrowly missing out on a medal in Tokyo three years ago, with Alexander Zverev and Pablo Carreno Busta getting the better of him to end a historic bid for a Golden Slam.

    Djokovic, 37, said in April that winning an elusive gold medal was a priority for him this year, but there was some uncertainty over his participation after he withdrew from the French Open before his quarter-final match this month through injury.

    The Serbian suffered a torn meniscus in his right knee and underwent surgery but now looks to be on track to return to Roland-Garros for the Games, with Dusan Lajovic also selected for Serbia.

    "Team Serbia for Paris 2024 got new representatives," the Serbian Olympic Committee announced. 

    "Tennis players Novak Djokovic and Dusan Lajovic fulfilled the requirements, according to the ATP ranking, and confirmed their performance at the Olympic Games."

    Djokovic's involvement in the men's tournament comes as a boost for the Paris Games after some high-profile female players like Aryna Sabalenka, Ons Jabeur and Emma Raducanu announced they would not be participating.

    The Olympic tennis tournaments are scheduled to run from July 27 until August 4.

    It is not yet known whether Djokovic will be able to participate at Wimbledon, which takes place before the Olympics.

    Wimbledon begins on July 1 and Djokovic is a seven-time champion at the event, just one title behind the men's singles record held by Roger Federer. 

    Djokovic lost an epic final to Carlos Alcaraz at last year's Wimbledon.

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    That longevity has served well for Murray, who won his first match at the tournament in 2005 and holds a 32-9 record at the ATP 500 grass-court event since.

    "During the match, it is difficult but great reward at the end for the hard work and effort I put into the match," Murray added.

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    The Italian swept the second seed aside with a 1-6 6-4 6-2 victory, teeing up a second-round meeting with Brandon Nakashima.

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