Djokovic Eager For ‘New Start’ In Monte-Carlo

World No. 2 Novak Djokovic is a proud Serbian, but the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters is essentially a home tournament for him.

The second seed at the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event will play Gilles Simon in his opening match. Djokovic is quite familiar with this tournament, making his 11th appearance. Monte-Carlo holds a soft spot for the Serbian after winning here twice (2013, 2015) and also finishing runner-up twice (2009, 2012). But after living in Monte-Carlo for more than seven years and even opening up a restaurant in the city, he’s relishing the comforts of home as he competes.

“It’s great to be in a place where I spend the most time when I’m not traveling. This is where I call home and where my training camp is, so I spend a lot of time on these courts,” said Djokovic. “It’s just very comfortable here. I sleep in my own bed. The family, friends and food that I like and are part of my daily routine are here. It’s a very special week for me and I’ve had that feeling for many years.”

Djokovic has struggled with injury throughout 2017, most recently being forced to withdraw from the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event in Miami with a lingering right elbow injury. But after nearly a month of rehab and training, he has declared himself fit and ready to battle.

“The elbow is fine now. I’ve been training for the past couple of weeks, playing Davis Cup and making the transition to clay that’s very demanding for the body. I was skeptical of how my elbow would react to the heavy balls on clay, but it’s been good so far,” said Djokovic. “I’ve paid a lot of attention to recovery since having to miss Miami and am now in shape to compete. My Davis Cup match (against Ramos-Vinolas) went really well. It was my best serving match in the past six or seven months, so hopefully it can keep going well here.”

Although Djokovic opened 2017 by defeating World No. 1 Andy Murray to win the Qatar ExxonMobil Open, he admitted his results since then haven’t matched the lofty standards he’s set in previous years. But now that the ATP World Tour shifts to a long stretch of clay-court events in Europe, he’s optimistic a new surface will provide a fresh start as he looks to defend titles at the Mutua Madrid Open and Roland Garros.

“I’ve always tried not to base my level of confidence solely on winning or losing matches, but the bottom line is that part of your confidence comes from that. If you’re on a streak and winning matches, you might naturally go for certain shots in important moments without as much pressure. In the opposite scenario, you’re thinking a little bit more and start doubting yourself,” he admitted. “Obviously the first four months of this year haven’t passed the way I want them to, especially compared to the past seven or eight years, but I’m aware that’s normal for an athlete to go through these ups and downs.

“I trust myself, my capabilities and the effort I’m putting into this process. I just have to believe that process is going to give me the results I’m wanting and hoping for,” he added. “I have all my thoughts directed to this tournament now and hope this can be a new start to the season for me.”

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