This content was published 7 years ago. It may refer to a past edition of the Internazionali BNL d’Italia.
Novak Djokovic is fresh, fit and relaxed and you can hardly blame him after a week of rest and rucuperation.
The Serbian opted not to compete this week in Madrid to give himself the best possible chance at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia and then the French Open.
The defending champion in Rome now insists the hard work starts now but wants to vindicate his decision to enjoy a bit of R & R.
“I had a good start to the season where I could alter my schedule and make decisions according to what I think is the priority,” he said. “Madrid has been one of the biggest tournaments we have in sport and it has been growing over the years. It was not an easy decision for me to skip.
“I wanted to play it but I thought it was a better decision for me to skip. I played a lot of matches, did not have too much time off.
“I had a really successful period and I needed a bit of time – seven to 10 days of rest. I could have played it but it was better for Rome and Paris not to play it. I needed a platform where I could perform well. You need that presence of mind and fresh legs to overcome the challenges.
“I spent the time in a family environment, I practised here in Rome a bit earlier to prepare for the tournament. I was with my wife and my brother, it was good to spend some time with them. There was no rush, no stress. Emotions can take away the energy so I was trying to enjoy my time practicing. I wanted to get as much love as possible to share with my close ones. It’s not always easy to spend quality time with people.
“I made the decision thinking it would possibly affect this week and Roland Garros. We will see. I’ve done things the right way the last couple of weeks, my entire team is here and taking this tournament really serious. We hope to have a good result.”
Djokovic knows he will expect a serious battle against Nadal, who is in the closing stages in Madrid, if the pair can reach the final again – both serving up a memorable match last year.
“I expect Rafa to play well in any tournament on clay,” he said. “Yes, he did not have the start of the clay court season he hoped. He sets high standards and people look for those from him. He loves playing Madrid and he always peaks at Roland Garros.
“I hope to keep the level of focus on me. I don’t think about who is the favourite. I’ve played so many times against these guys. It’s not distracting me or bothering me, it excites me. It gives me inspiration and motivation.”