Novak Djokovic admits that he’s not a huge fan of clay – but the Serb is doing his best to overcome his distaste for the dirt as he tunes up for the weekend start of Roland Garros.

“Although I grew up on clay, it is not my favourite surface,” the top seed at his family-run ATP 250 in Belgrade said after reaching the quarter-finals of an event he is almost expected to win.

“I like to play on hard, then on grass, and then only on clay. But, that doesn’t mean that I recorded bad results on clay.

“(It is) the kind of surface where it is unpredictable, and sometimes for my style of play, tempo, and rhythm it can be quite challenging.” 

The 34-year-old world No. 1 specified his preferred on-court date: the Australian Open final, which he has won nine times.

“Australian Open. Melbourne Park. Rod Laver Arena. 7 p.m. That is the most ideal.”

Djokovic will take the top seeding for Sunday’s Grand Slam start in Paris, with Russian Daniil Medvedev second and 13-time winner Rafael Nadal third.

Spain’s king of clay has won the last four editions and arrived in the capital on Wednesday after hit-outs at home in Mallorca with Norway’s Geneva titlewinner Casper Ruud.

With controversial French Open night sessions to become part of the programme for the first time at the upcoming edition, Djokovic is wary of what will surely be a complete change of court conditions between day and night on the clay.

“People on television think it’s not a big difference, but for us it’s a big difference when the balls change, when you play the evening match, when you play in the middle of the day, when the humidity is higher, the altitude, when it’s warmer… that for our sport makes a big difference,” the Serb said.

Djokovic won his only Paris trophy in 2016 and has lost in four other finals.


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