Novak Djokovic jokes about his age at the Australian Open
Novak Djokovic made sure to thank Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Andy Murray after advancing to the fourth round of the Rome Masters with a gruelling victory over Grigor Dimitrov. The Serb won 6-3, 4-6, 6-1 and will next face either Cameron Norrie or Marton Fucsovics in continued preparation before the upcoming French Open.
Djokovic appeared to be cruising to a comfortable victory before an inspired run of four games from the Bulgarian forced a decider, though the 35-year-old was able to raise his game to come out on top. After the win, Djokovic admitted that he could have won in straight sets but “dropped my level” before describing how the likes of Federer, Nadal and Murray have helped him improve when facing setbacks.
“[I was] very solid. I think I could have won in straight sets,” said Djokovic. “I was a set and 4-2 up and had a pretty decent forehand in the middle of the court at deuce on his serve and missed that. He held his serve well, we had new balls the next game, I did a double fault, the crowd got into it and got behind him and of course the energy of the place and the of the match changed.
“I dropped my level a bit, but luckily I managed find it right away in the first game [of the third set], made that crucial break and kind of shifted the momentum to my side, so I’m really pleased with the way I closed out the match.
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“Luckily for me in my career I managed to win more matches than those that I lost when I was facing difficult circumstances. I also lost a lot of matches, particularly in the beginning of my career. For a few years, whenever I needed to make that final step or win a Slam, I didn’t manage to do that, so I learned a lot.
“I got stronger because of the rivalries, particularly with [Roger] Federer, [Rafael] Nadal and [Andy] Murray. Just staying the course, staying patient and believing in the process and the journey… Understanding what works for you best, what’s your winning formula mentally and also physically and emotionally, and then sticking to it.”
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