Novak Djokovic talked to the press on Thrusday before he starts his defending campaign.
“I don’t regret things in life,” said Djokovic. “Maybe I should have had a longer break after Roland Garros, to have more time to recharge emotionally in every aspect of my being. It didn’t happen, I kept on going and I don’t regret it because I believe there was a lesson to be learned from that.
“I think having those four or five months in the second half of 2016 was actually very important for me, for my growth as a player and as a human being. I learned a lot. I keep going. I’m obviously motivated to keep playing on a very high level.
“I had a couple of months where I wasn’t myself on the court and now I’m in a better place”. “I hope and believe that I’m heading in the right direction.”
“I feel much better in terms of game, in terms of mental side, than I was some months ago” . “Generally, if I see myself with a broader perspective today and comparing myself to the end of last season, I’m a different player. I feel more comfortable, more fresh. I look forward to competing and I feel more confident on the court.
“I had to re-motivate myself and get back on track and I feel like right now it’s much better than it was.”
Recalling an analogy that he made 12 months ago at Indian Wells, where he likened himself to the wolf atop the hill, watching the pack approaching, Djokovic said the tables have turned now. “I’m one of the wolves going up now. I’m hungry. But I’m not the only one.
“If I’m not hungry to have success in this sport, I wouldn’t be sat here talking to the media and playing this tournament. I’ve achieved so much in my career that I’m obviously very content and I could easily stop today and say, ‘it’s been enough’. But I keep going because I have that drive in me still and I have that flair. As long as that’s present, I’ll keep on playing.”
He has a tough draw this year. He is in the same half as Del Potro, Nadal and Federer.
“I haven’t had too many draws like that,” admitted Djokovic, who starts his bid against either Kyle Edmund or Gastao Elias before a potential third-round clash with Juan Martin del Potro. “It’s quite amazing to see that many quality players in one section of the draw. It is what it is. Obviously Nadal and Federer are just starting to re-build their rankings. We’ll see what happens in the first few days of the tournament and we’ll have some very strong matches. This is probably one of the toughest draws we’ve had.
“It’s a very strong field. This is one of the strongest tournaments we have in the sport. Everyone wants to do well. The draw is something you have to accept and deal with.”
source: bnpparibasopen.com; gettyimages