Novak Djokovic said that making a speedy turnaround after his controversial US Open exit was crucial to his success after capturing the Italian Open title in Rome.
Djokovic defeated Diego Schwartzman in Monday’s final to pick up his first clay-court title of the season as he enjoyed the perfect build-up to the next big Grand Slam tournament of the year, the French Open.
Djokovic was infamously booted out of the US Open after striking a line judge with a ball after an angry on-court outburst. And the Serbian star said he was grateful to get back on court so quickly after that incident so he could move on with his career.
“I did experience mentally some ups and downs in the first four-five days after that happened,” Djokovic told reporters in Rome.
“Obviously I was in shock… but I moved on, I’ve never had an issue in my life to move on regardless of how difficult it is.
“Obviously having a tournament a week after helped a lot because I really wanted to get on the court and get whatever trace of that out of the way.”
Despite his disqualification from the US Open, Djokovic’s form this year has been nothing short of stellar. He has won 31 of 32 matches so far in 2020, and after his imperious displays on the clay in Rome, he’s looking in ominously good form ahead of the French Open, which gets underway on Sunday at Roland Garros.
Despite his tournament win, Djokovic sounded a warning to his rivals by saying he has a lot more in his locker ahead of the Grand Slam tournament.
“I don’t think I played my best tennis, to be honest, I don’t want to sound arrogant here,” he said.
“I am very satisfied and pleased to win a title. I know I still have a couple of gears.
“Hopefully I’ll be able to raise that level for the French Open because that’s going to be necessary if I want to go deep in the tournament.”
The expected meeting between Djokovic and defending French Open champion Rafael Nadal in Rome never materialized after the Spanish star was knocked out by Schwartzman in the quarter-finals. But Djokovic said he fully expects his longtime rival to be in peak form in France.
“He’s the player who has the highest chance of being in the final,” he said.
“If it’s Roland Garros, it’s Rafa you bet on.”