Novak Djokovic admits to ‘mental’ struggles with star still unable to find best form

Novak Djokovic: Adam Hills shares opinion on tennis star

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Novak Djokovic has revealed that he is struggling with the mental aspect of his game as he looks to recapture his form after a turbulent start to the year on all fronts. The Serb was unceremoniously deported from Melbourne on the eve of the Australian Open back in January and has failed to live up to his own high standards in the months since returning to the court at the Dubai Tennis Championships.

Djokovic was dumped out at the quarter-final stage in Dubai before falling in the first round at the Monte-Carlo Masters and losing at the hands of Andrey Rublev in the final of the Serbia Open earlier this month. The 34-year-old will be hoping to get his season back on track with a productive showing in Madrid later this week but has admitted to battling hard on the mental side of things as he seeks to recapture his form of old.

“The challenge is definitely more on the mental and emotional side,” he told reporters. “Of course, I have never experienced anything similar to what I experienced early this season and I did not know how that’s going to affect me.

“It obviously still – you know, I still have to deal with it to some extent. It’s not as powerful that it was in the first two, three months of the year. I feel like the more I play, the more I’m in this environment, the more comfortable I feel.”

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Djokovic will be aiming to begin his Madrid Open campaign with a solid victory over either Gael Monfils or Carlos Gimeno Valero in his opening match of the tournament on Tuesday. The former world No 1 also plans to compete at the Rome Masters in order to fine-tune his preparations on clay ahead of this year’s French Open, which is set to get underway in Paris at the end of the month.

The man from Belgrade has already claimed the top prize in Madrid on three previous occasions but will be hoping to kick-start his clay-court swing with a fourth triumph in the Spanish capital later this week. Djokovic went on to explain that he has been working to improve his fitness levels since crashing out of the Monte Carlo Masters in order to mix it with the likes of Stefanos Tsitspas and Rafael Nadal and go for glory over the coming days.

“[It was] different in Belgrade than it was in Monaco,” he added. “Knowing that I played four almost-three-hour matches and long, three-set battles 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 the 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 in our sport.”


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