Novak Djokovic: “I believe in my own abilities” | ATP tour

Reigning Roland Garros champion Novak Djokovic feels confident and eager to go as he prepares to defend his title over the next fortnight.

The world No. 1, who beat Stefanos Tsitsipas in the final last year, arrives in Paris in high spirits after claiming a record-breaking 38th ATP Masters 1000 crown in Rome earlier this month.

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

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

The Serb is making his 18th appearance in Paris and is seeded to face 13-time Roland Garros champion Rafael Nadal in the quarter-finals. He could face Spaniard #NextGenATP Carlos Alcaraz in the last four.

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However, although the Serb has admitted he believes the Spaniards are the main contenders for the title, he is unwilling to look too far into the draw as he seeks to focus on himself and use experience to overcome potential challenges.

“I think the experience of being on the Tour for so long helps to know how to expend energy on the pitch game after game,” Djokovic said. “[To] bring out the right intensity, handle everything that happens off the pitch and peak at the right time.

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

Djokovic will begin the quest for a record 21st Grand Slam crown when he faces Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka in the first round. Meanwhile, Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who takes on Casper Ruud, will make his final appearance at Roland Garros, with the former world No. 5 retiring after the tournament.

Djokovic and Tsonga have enjoyed a long-standing rivalry, with the Serb leading the 37-year-old 17-6 in their ATP Head2Head series.

“I wish him the best possible farewell to tennis that he can imagine, and I’m sure there will be a lot of support for him on center court… I’m sure it’s going to be very emotional for him,” Djokovic said when asked about the Frenchman. “And of course the whole French crowd who have watched him play over the years. He has been one of the most charismatic and energetic tennis players.”

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