Reigning Roland Garros champion Novak Djokovic is feeling confident and raring to go as he gears up to defend his title over the next fortnight.
The World No. 1, who defeated Stefanos Tsitsipas in the final last year, arrives in Paris in high spirits after winning a record-extending 38th ATP Masters 1000 crown in Rome earlier this month.
“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,” Djokovic said in his pre-tournament press conference.
“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.”
The Serbian 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 play #NextGenATP Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz in the last four.
However, while the Serbian admitted that he feels the Spaniards are major contenders for the title, he is not willing to look too far ahead in the draw as he looks to focus on himself and use his experience to 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.”
Novak Djokovic will begin the quest for a record-equalling 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 enjoyed a long-running rivalry, with the Serbian leading the 37-year-old 17-6 in their ATP Head2Head series.
“I wish him the best possible farewell to the tennis that he can imagine, and I’m sure there is going to be a lot of support for him on the centre court… I’m sure that it’s going to be very emotional for him,” Djokovic said when asked about the Frenchman. “And of course, all the French crowd watching him play over the years. He has been one of the most charismatic, energetic tennis players out there.”