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It may not have been the best few weeks of Novak Djokovic’s career but the world No.1 is ready to look forward as he attempts to retain his crown at Foro Italico.
Djokovic has yet to win on clay in 2012 in a trying few weeks. His close grandfather Vladimir passed away last month and the Serb was disrupted in Madrid by the faster than expected playing surface.
It is perhaps easy to forget he is on the verge of a possible ‘Nole slam’ in two weeks’ time at the French Open having currently got the Wimbledon, US Open and Australian Open trophies on his mantelpiece.
Djokovic’s immediate concern is reproducing his clay court tennis of this time last year after the Serb continued his unbeaten start to 2011 by winning this competition 12 months ago.
“I think that my preparation for Rome and Roland Garros are being disturbed in many ways because I feel that I have been practising very hard in the past few weeks,” he said. “I had a good match in Monte Carlo and I’m physically fit and ready for the challenges that will come and I want to think only of Rome at the moment. I’ve had a fantastic time here, especially in 2011 and lots of support and I really feel that this is why I feel really close to the Italian people and so I love playing here and I’m looking forward to going to the Roland Garros this year. It’s one of the top priorities for me this year.
“Expectations and pressure are part of the professional sport and this is something that you get used to but I think I have enough experience to know how to approach a Grand Slam and a tournament. I have played so many big matches and I love the opportunity and I love the challenge and I love being there and it is one of the top priorities but it is a Grand Slam where Nadal is always the top favourite.”