Djokovic has Nadal in his sights

7th June 2007, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, June 7, 2007 (AFP) - Novak Djokovic admitted that the biggest obstacle between him and his first Grand Slam title was not defending two-time French Open champion Rafael Nadal or world number one Roger Federer.

PARIS, June 7, 2007 (AFP) - Novak Djokovic admitted that the biggest obstacle between him and his first Grand Slam title was not defending two-time French Open champion Rafael Nadal or world number one Roger Federer.

The 20-year-old Serb believes that the toughest part of his challenge is mental, as a player from a former war-torn country which has no real history of tennis.

"I still don't see myself as a Grand Slam winner," explained the player from Belgrade, who made his breakthrough this year by winning three of his five titles in Adelaide, the ATP Masters Series Miami and on clay in Estoril.

"I believe in it, but I didn't see myself. A lot of people have asked me that because I won against Nadal in Miami and beat one of the best players in the world.

"So I'm trying to go step by step. I know I'm in the semi-finals, but there's two matches to come for the title, I'm playing the most difficult players on this surface.

"But the semi-finals of a Grand Slam can only motivate me in a positive way."

Djokovic, who faces Nadal in Friday's semi-final, is one of an unprecedented four Serbs to feature in the last four here this year with compatriots Jelena Jankovic and Ana Ivanovic already in the semi-finals of the women's singles.

Another Serb Nenad Zimonjic has made it into the semi-final in the men's doubles.

Djokovic is also only the second Serbian man to reach a Grand Slam singles semi-final after Slobodan Zivojinovic who made the last four at the 1985 Australian Open and Wimbledon in 1986.

Monica Seles won the women's title here three times here under the Yugoslavian flag from 1990-1992.

And Djokovic admitted this week's achievements were amazing for the former war-torn country.

"We're really all proud. What has happened is phenomenal for a small country.

"We've been through a lot of difficulties and problems as a country in the last 15, 20 years. I don't like to talk about it, so now it is something positive going on.

"I can't explain why all these tennis players in the men's and women's tennis came up together at the top of the world at the same time because Jelena Jankovic was practicing in the United States most of her life and Ivanovic in Switzerland. I was practicing since I was 12 in Germany, Italy.

"We didn't have any system in our country that can bring us up and help us in our careers. And it's really accidentally it happened that in only one year everybody came up together."

Nadal remains wary of Djokovic who was forced to retire injured in their quarter-final after two sets here last year.

Since then the two men have met three times with Nadal winning twice, including on clay in Rome last month.

Nadal added: "He's (Djokovic) had an amazing season. I'm not surprised he has got so far. He's one of the possible future world number ones. I'll have to be at my top level.

"He has unbelievable potential but the tactic is always the same - to play good."


Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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