What is Novak Djokovic’s fitness status as the clay swing heats up in May?
Novak Djokovic’s 2022 season finally appears to have hit a turning point, thanks to his run to the final at the Serbia Open. Although the World No. 1 could not go all the way in front of his home fans, losing to Andrey Rublev in three sets, he got some much-needed match practice under his belt this week.
All four matches in Belgrade saw the Serb being taken to three sets and all four matches saw him spend at least two hours on the court each. The first-round fixture against Laslo Djere in particular lasted three hours and 20 minutes.
While the 20-time Grand Slam champion showed signs of being back to his usual best, there is still work to be done. He looked completely exhausted during the deciding set against Rublev as well as in the loss against Alejandro Davidovich Fokina at the Monte-Carlo Masters — something that has never been a problem with the 34-year-old in the past.
It is a problem that has caught Djokovic’s attention too. Speaking in his press conference after the match, the World No. 1 remarked that it was a “worrying” development that he hoped to address in the coming days.
Interestingly, the Serb made it clear that it was not COVID, but an unnamed illness that has been messing with his metabolism ever since Monte-Carlo.
“It’s not Covid, it’s something else, but I wouldn’t want to go into details. I don’t think it’s necessary. It’s just something that affects my body and my metabolism for a few weeks. It’s a little worrying that I have this feeling on the field because I haven’t had it for many years,” Djokovic said. “I train, I do things that I have always done and I am considered someone who is in the best shape on the tour. It’s not a body thing, it’s just something that affects me, but from week to week it will get better and better.”
This is not the first time this “unnamed illness” has been brought up in the last few days in reference to the 20-time Grand Slam champion. Speaking in a recent interview, the 34-year-old’s coach Goran Ivanisevic commented that he was “not 100% fit” during the Monte-Carlo loss.
Ivanisevic only mentioned that Djokovic got sick just prior to the match, but didn’t reveal the exact reasons why. However, the Croat remained confident that the World No. 1 should be back to full fitness by the time the French Open kicks off at the end of May.
“[Djokovic] wasn’t feeling well before he came here. He was sick. Let’s say he’s not fit one hundred percent to compete. Three weeks ago he was not allowed to play here because of the Covid decision. Then France opened and he was allowed. And it’s difficult mentally,” Ivanisevic said. “And then he got sick. And, to be honest, I didn’t expect something spectacular from this tournament. But he’ll be going to the French Open in five/six weeks, he’s got a couple more tournaments and he will be ready.”
Novak Djokovic will attempt to win his first title of the year at the Madrid Masters
Novak Djokovic’s quest for a first title in 2022 will move on to Madrid next
Following his stint in Serbia, Novak Djokovic will be back in action at the Madrid Masters (May 1-8) where he continue the pursuit to win his first title of the year. The World No. 1 will be joined by a very strong line-up, including the likes of defending champion Alexander Zverev, 21-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal and reigning Monte-Carlo champion Stefanos Tsitsipas.
The 20-time Grand Slam champion is a three-time winner at the event, winning the 2011, 2016 and 2019 editions. A win in Madrid this time around will see the 34-year-old extend his record haul of Masters 1000 titles to 38, as well as help him majorly in keeping hold of the World No. 1 spot until Roland Garros.