Novak Djokovic - Roland Garros 2022

Novak Djokovic hoping to ‘peak in Paris’ for Roland Garros after ‘ugly’ win

Novak Djokovic is hoping to be able to reach his best level at Roland Garros, after claiming he played ‘ugly’ on his return to the ATP tour in Monte Carlo.

Djokovic beat qualifier Ivan Gakhov, 7-6(5) 6-2, but did not appear to think that he played well in his first match since losing in the semi-finals of Dubai last month.

“It was probably, you can call it this way, an ugly tennis win for me today. I haven’t played my best, particularly in the first set. I kind of expected that that’s going to happen in a way with swirly conditions, a lot of wind today,” Djokovic said after the match.

He continued, “It’s different practicing and then playing an official match on clay. No two bounces are the same. It’s always quite unpredictable what’s going to happen. All in all, I just pleased with the way I held my nerves I think in important moments and managed to clinch the two sets win.”

While the Serb did not seem too impressed with his tennis yesterday, he did suggest the length of the clay court season allows him to build up his form to Roland Garros that begins at the end of May.

“I have to say, it’s in the back of my mind, as an ultimate goal on clay. I really want to be able to build my form so I can peak in Paris,” said the 22-time Grand Slam champion.

“It’s still a long way. The clay-court season is quite long, you have pretty much every week some strong events and tournaments. Hopefully, I can start the clay season here in a positive way.”

Djokovic added, “I’m mainly focused on what I can deliver here and then of course moving into different weeks. But of course, Roland-Garros is an ultimate goal.”

Novak Djokovic at Roland Garros

While Roland Garros is statistically Djokovic’s weakest major in terms of titles, he is the only person to beat 14-time champion Rafael Nadal more than once at the event.

Here are all of Djokovic’s 18 years at the Paris major:

2005 – Lost in the second round to Guillermo Coria (8), 6-4 2-6 2-3 (retired)

2006 – Lost in the quarter-final to Rafael Nadal (2), 4-6 4-6 (retired)

2007 – Lost in the semi-final to Rafael Nadal (2), 5-7 4-6 2-6

2008 – Lost in the semi-final to Rafael Nadal (2), 4-6 2-6 6(3)-7

2009 – Lost in the third round to Philipp Kohlschreiber (29), 4-6 4-6 4-6

2010 – Lost in the quarter-final to Jurgen Melzer (22), 6-3 6-2 2-6 6(3)-7 4-6

2011 – Lost in the semi-final to Roger Federer (3), 6(5)-7 3-6 6-3 6(5)-7

2012 – Lost in the final to Rafael Nadal (2), 4-6 3-6 6-2 5-7

2013 – Lost in the semi-final to Rafael Nadal (3), 4-6 6-3 1-6 7-6(3) 7-9

2014 – Lost in the final to Rafael Nadal (1), 6-3 5-7 2-6 4-6

2015 – Lost in the final to Stan Wawrinka (8), 6-4 4-6 3-6 4-6

2016 – Beat Andy Murray (2) in the final, 3-6 6-1 6-2 6-4

2017 – Lost in the quarter-final to Dominic Thiem (6), 6(5)-7 3-6 0-6

2018 – Lost in the quarter-final to Marco Cecchinato, 3-6 6(4)-7 6-1 6(11)-7

2019 – Lost in the semi-final to Dominic Thiem (4), 2-6 6-3 5-7 7-5 5-7

2020 – Lost in the final to Rafael Nadal (2), 0-6 2-6 5-7

2021 – Beat Stefanos Tsitsipas (5) in the final, 6(6)-7 2-6 6-3 6-2 6-4

2022 – Lost in the quarter-final to Rafael Nadal (5), 2-6 6-4 2-6 6(4)-7

Djokovic will be hoping to be in better form when he plays his third round match against Lorenzo Musetti, who is coming off the back of a ‘double bagel’ victory over his fellow Italian Luca Nardi.

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Matthew Johns, Tennishead Writer, is a professional tennis journalist with a specialist degree in Sports Journalism. He's a keen tennis player having represented his local club and University plus he's also a qualified tennis coach. Matthew has a deep knowledge of tennis especially the ATP Tour and thrives on breaking big tennis news stories for Tennishead.