Tennis star Novak Djokovic during his semifinal match against Carlos Alcaraz in Madrid.
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Of: Michael Haug

Novak Djokovic justified his many defeats in 2022 with an illness. Will the world number one get in shape in time for the French Open?

Rome – For Novak Djokovic records play a huge role. “He really wants to go down in history and will cross the finish line with a three or four Grand Slam lead for me,” says Djokovic biographer Daniel Müksch sports1-Podcast “Crosscourt”.

However, his form in 2022 currently raises doubts. Djokovic refused to be vaccinated against the cornavirus and missed many tournaments as a result. Above all, the missed Australian Open would have put a mental strain on him, the “Joker” admitted. So far he is still lagging behind his form.

But why? Djokovic also justifies this with a mysterious illness.

Novak Djokovic: Start of the season full of defeats

Djokovic played his first tournament this year in Dubai at the end of February, finishing in the quarter-finals against Jiri Vesely, number 73 in the world rankings. In Monte Carlo, the 20-time Grand Slam champion lost to Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in the first round. The 34-year-old collapsed in the third set and lost 6-1. The same happened to him at the home tournament in Belgrade, when he reached the final. It was 0:6 in the third set against Andrey Rublev.

Tennis star Novak Djokovic during his semifinal match against Carlos Alcaraz in Madrid. © IMAGO/Atilano Garcia

Tennis: Novak Djokovic explains defeats with mysterious illness

Djokovic looked limp and powerless against Rublev. Already at the beginning of his career Djokovic had strength problems at the end of his matches, but according to his own statement the problems are not comparable. “That has never happened to me, not even in the early stages of my career. Now first in Monte Carlo and then here. That’s why I think it has to do with the illness I’ve been through,” Djokovic assesses his fatigue.

Djokovic did not reveal which disease it was. It is definitely not comparable to Rafael Nadal’s illness. What is certain: It is not about Corona! “But it’s something that affects my metabolism,” feels the controversial tennis legend.

Tennis: Doctors are amazed by Novak Djokovic

The problems can hardly be pinned down to Djokovic’s professionalism. Only by changing his diet was the Serb able to reach the highest level, he says in his book “Siegernahrung: Gluten-free nutrition for top performance”. “People from Djokovic’s environment told me that they had problems with the doctors when they presented X-rays and values ​​because they could not believe that it was a man in his early 30s,” reports Müksch.

Djokovic is said to have drilled into his fitness trainer how long he wanted to be fit. “You have to design every training session so that I can still play world class in my early 40s,” he is said to have said, according to Müksch.

Tennis: Novak Djokovic is slowly finding form

At the ATP Masters tournament in Madrid, Djokovic showed increasing form. The world number 12. Hubert Hurkacz defeated Djokovic in two straight sets. In the semi-finals, the three-time Madrid tournament winner fought an epic match against 19-year-old prodigy Carlos Alcaraz. Djokovic lost 5:7 in the tie-break of the third set. “Honestly, I don’t know what made the difference,” admitted Alcaraz afterwards. “Novak is back. Not just his game, but also his focus and mental strength,” said legendary coach Patrick Mouratoglou.

It would be a timely return for Djokovic. in the Stadium Roland Garros he wants to defend his French Open title. All dates of the French Open 2022 can be found here.

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