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‘I’m getting closer to the desired level’ – Resurgent Djokovic happier with performance in Rome

Novak Djokovic thinks he’s getting back to his best – ominous news for the rest of the tour

Novak Djokovic Tennis – Italian Open – Foro Italico, Rome, Italy – May 14, 2023 Serbia’s Novak Djokovic reacts during his round of 32 match against Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov (AI/Reuters/Panoramic)

Top seed Novak Djokovic knew he would get a real test from his second-round opponent Grigor Dimitrov, seeded 26th – but, he told reporters after a 6-3, 4-6, 6-1 victory, that is the very thing he needed.

The Serbian has had a limited clay-court season thus far and has struggled with an elbow injury, but he is hoping that a good run in Rome will put him in prime condition for Roland-Garros.

“This is kind of a surface that the more matches you play, the better you will feel,” he said in his press conference. “Of course, I would love to play a maximum amount of matches in this tournament. That’s why I’m here.

“It’s a different scheduling this year than any other year that I played in Rome. Obviously with an extended duration of the tournament, you have a day off between matches, which in some way it’s good because you get a chance to recover more, to work on a practice court on the specifics of your game, then perform on the court in best possible way.”

Djokovic: You can always play better

He added: “I think I’m getting closer to the desired level. Of course, you can always play better, but today I had a really good quality opponent and I think I delivered for most part of the match except the last four games of the second set. Other than that I think I was really solid, served well, moved well. When I had opportunities, I was capitalising on those opportunities.

“Just overall a really solid performance and definitely a better level than in the first match. Hopefully I can keep the same trajectory in the next one.”

Although he had some words of criticism for the tournament’s court quality, saying: “Rome never had a great reputation for the quality of the court, to be honest with you,” he also had some kind words for his opponent: “Playing Grigor is always a challenge. I know that he’s going to deliver his quality. He is one of the most talented players on the tour, without a doubt, for many years.”

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