Novak Djokovic faces big decision over next tournament amid commitment concerns

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Novak Djokovic’s name is on the entry list of the Madrid Open later this month, but there have to be some doubts over whether the world No 1 will play in the Spanish capital.

Djokovic took his first tentative steps onto the clay courts at Monte Carlo last week, as he reached the semi-finals before a surprise defeat against Casper Ruud.

That loss sparked more question marks over whether Djokovic was fully committed to playing in tournaments outside of the Grand Slams, with his former coach Goran Ivanisevic bringing the subject into the public eye in an interview following the end of his time with the Serbian.

“I don’t know for how much longer Novak plans to keep on playing, but the perfect person is with him at the moment – Ziki (Nenad Zimonjic),” said Ivanisevic.

“He is a great friend of mine, we went through a lot together and I love him. He has vast tennis knowledge, but what is most important – he knows Novak really well.

“At the moment, Novak doesn’t need someone completely new, who is yet to get to know him. Let’s say 10 days pass, Novak ‘goes crazy’ and this new coach is left wondering what is going on.

“I believe that Novak will find motivation, I am sure of it. I wish him Olympic gold with all my heart, even more than the Slams.

“It’s something that he wants, he feels like he owes it to someone, although he doesn’t owe anyone anything… I wish for him to succeed in the Olympics.

“When Novak is the DJ, everybody dances to his tune. The sooner he takes over the DJ’s place, the sooner others will start to dance.

“Novak has won everything there is to be won in tennis. Finding motivation every day, I’m with him in the training sessions and I watch it, it’s not easy to come every day to training and to motivate yourself, it’s easier for the grand slams, but for these Masters, it’s hard to train with intensity over and over again, even for a perfectionist such as he.”

Djokovic pulled out of the Miami Open as he confirmed he wanted to spend more time with his family, but it is clear that the 24-time Grand Slam-winning legend needs to spend more time on court to maintain his position as the man to beat in the men’s game.

He has only played three regular tour events and also played in the United Cup for Serbia in January and his results suggest he needs to play more tennis to stay sharp against the game’s best.

Yet Djokovic has opted against playing at the Madrid Open in two of the last three years, as he chose not to play in 2021 and last year.

He reached the semi-finals in his most recent visit to Madrid, losing against Carlos Alcaraz in a thrilling contest, but there may be a more pressing case for his play this year.

Djokovic will be keen to build up winning momentum on clay courts and he can only do that by playing tournaments, but that will mean he needs to commit to tournaments that are now tournaments that extend over more than a week.

Former world No 1 Andy Roddick is among those urging Djokovic to play more tournaments, as he believes the reigning French Open champion needs to get some wins under his belt heading to the second Grand Slam of the year.

“He needs to play more tennis going into Roland Garros. He knows better than anyone how to manage this part of the year,” said former world No 1 Andy Roddick on his latest Served podcast.

“He has slowly ramped up the clay court season to get to a Roland Garros title, so I’m not worried about him.”

Djokovic has a few days to consider his options before making a final decision on his participation in Madrid, where Alcaraz is also hoping to make a return after missing the first two clay court events of his season due to an arm injury.

 

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