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Novak Djokovic has made it clear he’s only focused on racking up the Grand Slam victories from now on – and hopes to be in “peak form” in Paris later this month. Djokovic is looking to join Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer on 20 majors and a win at the French Open would do wonders for his chances of ending up as the greatest of all time statistically.
A 36-time Masters 1000 winner, Djokovic stands on 18 Slams after winning the Australian Open earlier this year.
But he has not won at Roland Garros since 2016, Nadal winning the ATP Tour’s clay-court Slam every year since to take himself to 13 triumphs overall in the French capital.
Djokovic and Federer have only won twice combined at the French Open despite their 38 Slams, mainly due to Nadal’s sheer dominance of the event, with the Spaniard – also known as the ‘King of Clay’ the massive favourite again this year.
World No 1 Djokovic, who overtook Federer for most weeks top of the rankings on March 8, has endured a disappointing clay season so far.
He lost to Dan Evans in his second match of the Monte Carlo Masters and was stunned by Aslan Karatsev in the semi-finals of the Serbia Open.
The 33-year-old did at least beat Taylor Fritz in his opening match at the Italian Open, where he is the defending champion, though could come face-to-face with red dirt specialist Nadal in Rome. The last time he did so he was beaten in straight sets by Nadal in last year’s Roland Garros final.
And Djokovic is hoping to use the Italian Open, his final tournament prior to the French Open which begins May 24 and concludes on June 13, as a springboard to get back to his best form.
The Serbian has also previously made no secret of his desire to break records but insists the only one on his mind now is catching up to long-time rivals Nadal and Federer.
Winning the French Open would put him on 19 with the prospect of then matching the pair at Wimbledon or the US Open, knowing that winning both would make him the first male player ever to reach 21.
Djokovic said: “I did not play very well in Monaco and Belgrade, but fortunately I have the opportunity to be here in Rome and I will also be in Belgrade for another week before Roland Garros [to practice].
“I think playing four tournaments before Roland Garros is enough to accumulate matches.
“I’m building my physical condition and improving my game slowly and step by step to reach my peak form in Paris. That is where I want to play my best.
“I don’t pay attention to the ranking after breaking the record for weeks as number one. I reached that goal, now my priority is to win the Grand Slams, I’m focused on it.”
Djokovic fumed at the umpire during his Italian Open second-round win over American Fritz as rain eventually delayed his match.
As conditions got worse and play continued, he said: “How much more do you want to play? I asked you three times and you are not checking anything.”
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After action eventually restarted, Djokovic won 6-3, 7-6 (7-5) and afterwards said: “It was a really strange match, to play in the rain, it was difficult.
“I was stressed out in the end obviously, but I think it was the right call to stop the match.
“When I came back, I thought we were quite even actually till the last point. I’m glad that I managed to finish off this match in straight sets. I know I can play better.
“It was a very strange match with strange conditions. Obviously it is challenging for both me and him.”
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