Djokovic in action at Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters
Novak Djokovic is a beacon of hope for Serbian tennis as the superstar is arguably the biggest name in the men’s side of the draw and hails from Serbia while continuing to do things to promote the sport in the country.
The World No. 1 has had a lot of uncertainty surrounding his participation in events this year as the Serbian has not been vaccinated and has no intention of getting the jab any time soon, which brings into question his eligibility at tournaments.
However, he is confirmed to take part in the Serbian Open and his opening matchup will be against Laslo Djere as the World No. 1 will be hoping to get some match practice ahead of bigger tournaments on clay this year.
Excited at the prospect of going up against arguably the greatest tennis player of all time, Laslo Djere hails from Serbia and spoke about what Novak Djokovic means to him and how he will approach the match in a press conference.
“I always looked at him when I was a child. That change in the last couple of years, when I was able to play and train with him in tournaments … That’s why I have great respect for everything he did. Now I have to look at him as an opponent for tomorrow. He was a great motivator for all of us players from Serbia. He showed us the way, that anything is possible. It had a great effect. Now I have to forget about all that and focus on the match.” – Djere said.
“When you play against him you are never or almost never in the lead.” – Djere on facing Novak Djokovic in Belgrade
Novak Djokovic in action in Dubai
Novak Djokovic has had a stop-start season thus far as the top-ranked player on the planet has competed in only two tournaments so far this year, losing to Jiri Vesely in the quarterfinals in Dubai, and his return to action did not go according to plan as the World No. 1 crashed out of Monte-Carlo in his opening match against Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in a surprising result.
However, his next opponent, Laslo Djere expects him to put the troubling start behind him and play well from here on out.
“He did have only one match on clay, but when you play against him you are never or almost never in the lead. Maybe we’re not even equal. Maybe he is not in shape, I watched him play in Monte Carlo, but in tennis things change quickly.” – Djere said.
Djere also believes that the onus and pressure will be on the World No. 1 rather than himself as Djokovic comes into the tournament with a lack of match preparation and major tournaments coming thick and fast.
“Now he is getting in shape, in the tournament routine, he missed a lot of tournaments because he could not go to some countries. I just have to give my maximum, to focus on myself, not to think too much about the result. The advantage is that the pressure will not be on me. If anyone needs to feel the pressure, it’s him. But he handles perhaps the best of all tennis players. I will try to enter the match completely relaxed and enjoy.” – Djere added.
Novak Djokovic was seen practicing with Dominic Thiem ahead of the Serbian Open and has confirmed his presence at the Rome and Madrid Masters as he gears up to defend his French Open crown next month.