Tennis: My struggles are ‘liberating’, says Djokovic

Djokovic plays a shot against Canadian Vasek Pospisol in Eastbourne, June 28, 2017.
Djokovic plays a shot against Canadian Vasek Pospisol in Eastbourne, June 28, 2017.PHOTO: AFP

EASTBOURNE, United Kingdom (AFP) – Without the pressure of four Grand Slam titles on his shoulders, Novak Djokovic on Wednesday (June 28) described his struggles as “liberating”.

“I was very fortunate and privileged to have so much success in the last eight, nine years, and entered most of the tournaments as one of the biggest favourites to win it,” said the Serb, top seed at this week’s Wimbledon tune-up on the English south coast at Eastbourne.

“For a change it’s good to not be one of the top favourites. It is liberating a bit, it releases a bit of the pressure.

“But the pressure is always there, you still feel it. It’s part of who I am, what I do.”

The 30-year-old added: “What I’ve achieved so far has added to those expectations, I try to lower them as much as I can. In this stage of my life and career, it’s trying to focus only on what comes up next, which doesn’t mean that I don’t want to win the trophies and so forth.

“Of course I do. That’s why I’m playing professional tennis. But it’s just that I need to take things a bit slower and try and recalibrate so I can get to the level where I want to get.”

After completing his collection of majors by winning a first French Open a year ago, Djokovic has suffered a dramatic loss of form.

He has been relieved of all of his four Slam titles and has slipped to number four in the world – the first time in six years that he has dropped out of the top two.

Djokovic has split with coaches Boris Becker and Marian Vajda, linking up with Andre Agassi at Roland Garros where he was defeated in the quarter-finals.

The 47-year-old American is due to arrive at the weekend at the All England club to guide his new charge at Wimbledon where Djokovic is a three-time champion.

Djokovic was boosted on Wednesday when he was seeded at two behind Andy Murray for Wimbledon which starts on Monday.

“I want to thank Wimbledon for getting me two spots ahead than I’m actually ranked. So it’s probably due to also the good results I have had in the last three, four years in Wimbledon,” said Djokovic after reaching the quarter-finals at Eastbourne with a 6-4, 6-3 win over Vasek Pospisil.

“Whether it helps or not, I can’t say at the moment. It doesn’t make too much of a difference other than I’m not going to potentially meet (top seed) Andy (Murray) in semis rather than finals, but it’s too far away.

“I don’t see myself as one of the top few favourites.

“I’m glad that I’m one of the top four seeds, which is important, in a way, but whether I’m, you know, 2, 3, 4, it’s not a significant difference.”