Novak Djokovic US Open 2021

‘I believe in my own abilities’ – Novak Djokovic stakes his claim for a 21st Slam

World number one Novak Djokovic is feeling confident and “always in contention to fight for any Grand Slam trophy” as he looks to win a record-equaling 21st Grand Slam.

Djokovic, who was forced to miss the first quarter of the 2022 season due to his vaccination status, is coming into form just at the right time for the French Open as he reached the semi-final of the Madrid Open and won a record-extending 38th Masters 1000 title at the Italian Open earlier this month.

The Serbian is set to make his 18th appearance at Roland Garros, with the hope of matching Rafael Nadal’s record of 21 Grand Slam title wins and is seeded to face the 13-time French Open champion in the quarter-finals.

Reflecting on his chances to equal the record, the 34-year-old told reporters he was confident in his own ability and that he was raring to go ahead of his first appearance at a Major this year.

In his pre-tournament press conference, the world number one Djokovic said, “I feel I am always in contention to fight for any Grand Slam trophy. I believe in my own abilities to get far and to fight for one of the most prestigious trophies in the world of tennis.

“As a defending champion of course more so, to believe I can do it again. Reliving the memories from last year is something that obviously gives me goosebumps and motivation to try to replicate that.”

Despite stating that he is confident ahead of the Paris Slam, he also admitted that he is going to focus on one match at a time and use his experience at Grand Slams to help him overcome potential challenges.

“I think that experience of being on the Tour for such a long time helps to know how to spend energy on the court match after match,” Djokovic said. “[To] bring out the right intensity, manage everything that happens off the court and peak at the right time.

“Best-of-five, obviously things are different. [A] Grand Slam I think awakens so much motivation and emotions in a tennis player. It’s the dream of many tennis players to win a Grand Slam. That’s why you cannot underestimate anyone and probably not compare the performances of those players on any other tournament with the potential performance here in a slam.”

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