Novak Djokovic lost to Holger Rune in the quarter-finals of the Internazionali BNL d’Italia on Wednesday, but the Serbian remains undeterred.
After the six-time Rome champion’s title defence came to an end, a journalist asked the 38-time ATP Masters 1000 champion if he is still confident for Roland Garros.
“Yes,” Djokovic replied. The 35-year-old was also asked what else he needs going into the clay-court major.
“Nothing. I mean, just training and getting ready for the most important tournament of the clay season for me,” Djokovic said. “I know I can always play better. Definitely am looking forward to working on various aspects of my game, of my body, hopefully getting myself in 100 per cent shape. That’s the goal. I always like my chances in Grand Slams against anybody on any surface, best-of-five. Let’s see how it goes.”
Rune now leads the pair’s ATP Head2Head series 2-1, with both of his victories coming at Masters 1000 events. Djokovic was highly complimentary of his 20-year-old opponent.
“Obviously in these kind of conditions, it’s very difficult to get the ball past him. He’s very, very fast, very quick. Great anticipation. Just a very talented, dynamic player, all-around player,” Djokovic said. “Yeah, he was just better. He played too good for me for most parts of the match. I did have a bad start of the third set. I think that’s where match kind of shifted to his side. He kept his nerves and deserved to win.”
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Does the Serbian have any tips for the Dane?
“I’m going to ask him tips,” Djokovic said. “He beat me twice we played against each other, so… I have no tips for him. So far he’s doing very well.”
There are several younger players who have competed against and beaten Djokovic and other superstars on the ATP Tour, with Rune and another 20-year-old, Carlos Alcaraz among them. Daniil Medvedev, the 27-year-old who will play his Rome quarter-final on Thursday, leads the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Turin.
“Obviously, a new generation is here already. I mean, Alcaraz is No. 1 in the world from Monday. Obviously he’s playing amazing tennis. I think it’s also good for our sport that we have new faces, new guys coming up. It’s normal,” Djokovic said. “We’ve been saying this for years, that we can expect it to come, that moment to come when you have [a] kind of shift of generations.
“I’m personally still trying to hang in there with all of them. I’m happy with — of course, very happy with — my career so far. I still have the hunger to keep going.”