“Illness, maybe unrecoverable, taking longer than I expected” – Djokovic.


World No. 1 Novak Djokovic believes a recent illness is the likely cause of his fitness issues on court in Monte Carlo and Belgrade, but is now improving and aims to be back in shape for the French Open.

The 34-year-old fell, 6-2, 6-7(4), 6-0, to Andrey Rublev in the final of his home event in Belgrade, acknowledging that he did not have energy for the third set. He had similar issues the week before during an opening-round defeat in Monte Carlo, which marked just his second tournament of the season.

“It’s a bit worrisome, I can only assume it’s because of the illness that hit me a few weeks ago,” said Djokovic, who was playing his fourth three-setter in a row. “But I have to look at the positives, I’ve won three matches from a set down. At least this bad feeling physically came in the fourth match rather than the first match in Monte Carlo.

“Things are progressing slowly but surely… Again, Paris is the big goal.”

The problems against Rublev began in the second set, according to Djokovic.

“The 5-4 game was a long game and that is when I started to not feel great,” he said.

“I didn’t like the feeling today. The whole third set was similar to the feeling I was experiencing in Monte Carlo. It never happened really like this, that’s why I think it’s maybe the illness that was quite tough for me physically and health wise. I guess the recovery is taking longer for me than I expected.”

Djokovic added that the illness was not coronavirus, and had affected his preparations for Monte Carlo.

“It was quite severe, affecting me, affecting my body, my metabolism for a few weeks now,” he said. “Looking on a positive side, it’s progressing in a positive way. I’m playing three-setters back to back to back. But it’s a bit concerning to have this kind of feeling on court.”

The Serb’s schedule has also been lighter this season because his unvaccinated status prevented him from playing the Australian Open, Indian Wells, and Miami. Djokovic indicated that nothing else had changed and he anticipated a return to full fitness as he recovers.

”Training, I’m doing the things I’ve always done, I don’t have an issue with the body,” he said.

Djokovic is next scheduled to play Madrid, where he is a three-time champion.




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