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Novak Djokovic’s operation went well, according to the man himself, and despite there being no return date, there is an array of optimism that he will be fit enough to participate at the upcoming Olympics this summer.

The 2024 Paris Games get officially underway in just over a month, starting from 26 July until 11 August, and tennis lovers will certainly be hopeful of getting a glimpse of the 24-time Grand Slam winner in the French capital.

Djokovic underwent surgery on his right knee on Wednesday, an injury that ultimately ended his Roland Garros outing. Though there is no time frame for when he could step foot on court, there is certainly a glimmer of hope that he will be back to make another appearance on French soil in the showpiece event.

Novak Djokovic says his knee surgery went well and he wants to return to  action as soon as possible | Yourbasin

READ: Alcaraz v Sinner ‘the match everybody wants to watch’

The Serbian star was forced to withdraw from the French Open after winning his five-set match against Francisco Cerundolo, therefore being unable to take on Casper Ruud in the quarter-finals. It means for the first time since 2004, the men’s final in Paris will not feature Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, or Roger Federer.

Djokovic will lose his position as the world number one in the rankings. He will be surpassed by the Italian player and widely-popular fan favourite, Jannik Sinner, who will ascend to the top spot next week. “In the past day, I had to make some tough decisions after sustaining a meniscus tear during my last match,” Djokovic said on X.

“I’m still processing it all, but I am happy to update you that the surgery went well. I am so appreciative of the team of doctors who have been by my side as well as the overwhelming support I have received from my fans.”

The 37-year-old didn’t address his availability for Wimbledon, commencing on 1 July. However, he expressed his determination to strive for a swift return to court by prioritising his health and fitness. “My love for this sport is strong, and the desire to compete at the highest level is what keeps me going,” he added.

“My love for this sport is strong, and the desire to compete at the highest level is what keeps me going.” Djokovic’s main priority is ensuring he is ready to go to the Olympics, as he eyes an elusive gold. “The Paris Olympics are very important; the Olympics have always been a priority for me,” he said in April.

“It’s all about building my game for clay courts. I want to reach my peak for Paris – that’s where I want to play my best tennis. Anything else is a bonus, so let’s see what happens.”

Scheduled to take place from 27 July to 4 August at the Stade Roland Garros, the tennis will host 172 players competing across five medal events: singles and doubles for both men and women, as well as mixed doubles.

Carlos Alcaraz has labelled his French Open semi-final against Jannik Sinner as the match “everybody wants to watch”.

The pair are the highest-ranked players remaining in the men’s singles draw following Novak Djokovic’s withdrawal.

Italy’s Sinner, who will become the new world number one on Monday, is on a 12-match winning streak at Grand Slams this year after winning his first major at January’s Australian Open.

Rivalries: Jannik Sinner vs. Carlos Alcaraz | ATP Tour | Tennis

READ: ‘All Pressure’s On Her’: Gauff Going Into Swiatek Clash With Confidence

“I love these kind of matches. I love this kind of challenge, to have a really difficult battle against him,” said Spain’s Alcaraz.

He and Sinner will face off on Court Philippe Chatrier – not before 13:30 BST – before Alexander Zverev takes on Casper Ruud in the second semi-final.

Regardless of Thursday’s results, there will be a new French Open champion lifting the Coupe des Mousquetaires on Sunday.

In fact, it will be the first time since 2004 that one of the ‘Big Three’ – Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal or Djokovic – will not feature in the Roland Garros final.

Wimbledon winner Alcaraz and Australian Open champion Sinner have proved themselves as potential successors to the ‘Big Three’ following their Grand Slam victories in the past 12 months.

Both players struggled with injury issues in the build-up to the French Open, but they have cruised into the last four, dropping just one set each.

Third seed Alcaraz – who also won the US Open title in 2022 – was triumphant in the pair’s last encounter, with victory at Indian Wells moving him level at 4-4 in his head-to-head record with Sinner.

However, Sinner holds just one clay-court ATP Tour title compared to Alcaraz’s seven, and the Spaniard has long been destined for French Open glory.

Despite this, Alcaraz, 21, says it will be the “hardest thing” to face Sinner.

“Everything he does, he does it perfectly,” Alcaraz said of his 22-year-old opponent.

“He probably is one of the most difficult challenges that we can face in tennis right now. I think he’s the best player in the world.”

Novak Djokovic has aired concerns about his form heading into the French Open this weekend. The 37-year-old suffered a shock defeat at the hands of Tomas Machac at the Geneva Open on Friday, with a ‘horrible’ feeling leading him to consult medical attention after the first set.

Djokovic’s early 4-1 advantage was obliterated by the world No 44 in Switzerland as he won five games on the trot to take a one-set lead in the semi-final.

READ MORE:Tennis legend praises Novak Djokovic’s ‘remarkable achievement’ after latest world No 1 record

The Serb was seen by a doctor on court and responded by winning the second set 6-0.

Novak Djokovic : cet objet brandi par son père qui fait scandale en plein  Open d'Australie - Closer

Novak Djokovic has aired concerns about his form heading into the French Open this weekend. The 37-year-old suffered a shock defeat at the hands of Tomas Machac at the Geneva Open on Friday, with a ‘horrible’ feeling leading him to consult medical attention after the first set.

Djokovic’s early 4-1 advantage was obliterated by the world No 44 in Switzerland as he won five games on the trot to take a one-set lead in the semi-final. The Serb was seen by a doctor on court and responded by winning the second set 6-0.

RELATED:Goran Ivanisevic makes Novak Djokovic motivation confession as he discusses Jannik Sinner and Carlos Alcaraz challenge

After the match, with his French Open first-round match against Pierre-Hugues Herbert just around the corner, Djokovic admitted that poor recent form is weighing on his mind heading into Roland Garros.

On the match itself, and what prompted him to seek medical attention on court, Djokovic added: “I didn’t have a great night, and today it was difficult.

“I had horrible sensations during the first set of the match. I don’t want to take any credit away from Tomas, who deserved his victory, but I don’t know what to think of this match. I prefer to forget it.”

Why Djokovic hasn't won US Open in five years - Tennis Majors

Djokovic was desperate for a positive outcome in Geneva, having failed to reach the final of a tournament this calendar year. His Italian Open bid was ended by Alejandro Tabilo earlier this month, and Casper Ruud dumped him out of the Monte-Carlo Masters before that.

UPDATE:$6,000,000 PRIZE MONEY CONFIRMED FOR 6 KINGS SLAM WINNER OF NOVAK DJOKOVIC AND RAFAEL NADAL LED EVENT

favourable draw on paper – against French wildcard Herbert – gives Djokovic a good chance of rebuilding some momentum early on in Paris. But bookmakers now make Carlos Alcaraz favourite for the French Open, ahead of the 24-time Grand Slam champion.

World No 1 Djokovic notched straight-sets wins over Yannick Hanfmann and Tallon Griekspoor in Geneva before coming up short against Machac.

 

Tennis legend Paul McNamee has hailed Novak Djokovic’s latest “remarkable achievement,” with the Serbian set to extend his reign as the oldest No 1 in ATP history.

Having recently overtaken Roger Federer as the oldest player to ever be world No 1 – across either the men’s or women’s games – recent results mean his time at the top will continue.

READ MORE:Goran Ivanisevic makes Novak Djokovic motivation confession as he discusses Jannik Sinner and Carlos Alcaraz challenge

Jannik Sinner’s withdrawal from his Madrid Open quarter-final means it is now all but impossible that he can replace the Serbian at the top spot before the French Open later this month.

Djokovic bate Mannarino sem sustos e se classifica às quartas de final do Australian Open | tênis | ge

While Carlos Alcaraz’s loss in the last eight of his home Masters 1000 event means that he has lost even further ground, with the world No 3 set to be over 2,500 points behind Djokovic when the rankings update next week.

All that means Djokovic will be No 1 on May 22nd – when the 24-time Grand Slam champion celebrates his 37th birthday, just before his Roland Garros title defence.

Federer was aged 36 when he was last world No 1 in 2018, while Serena Williams was the oldest WTA No 1 in WTA history, aged 35 in 2017.

A long-time supporter of Djokovic, Australian McNamee – a five-time doubles major winner and former No 1 in that discipline – took to social media to congratulate the Serbian.

RELATED:Rafael Nadal hints Novak Djokovic has had it easy against new generation

He said: “After all Novak Djokovic has been through, including in my country, which would have broken many athletes, let’s give credit where credit is due… being #1 turning 37 years of age is a remarkable achievement.”

Recent results mean that Djokovic is not only going to be the first 37-year-old to be world No 1 but will also extend his reign as the longest-reigning No 1 in ATP history.

He currently has spent 423 weeks at the top of the ATP rankings, first holding the top spot in July 2011, and having spent the last 34 weeks as No 1 after regaining the ranking following his US Open victory last September.

Open d'Australie : bousculé par le 178e mondial, Djokovic, « un peu malade », évite le naufrage - Le Parisien

Though there will be rankings pressure on him across Roland Garros and also Wimbledon – where he reached the final in 2023 – it is not impossible to imagine Djokovic reaching 450 weeks as No 1.

With fewer points to defend over the next two months, Sinner has a fairly strong chance of usurping him.

But doubts currently circle over the world No 2’s fitness after sustaining a hip injury during his Madrid campaign.

UPDATE:$6,000,000 PRIZE MONEY CONFIRMED FOR 6 KINGS SLAM WINNER OF NOVAK DJOKOVIC AND RAFAEL NADAL LED EVENT

After missing Madrid, Djokovic is set to return at the Italian Open next week, where he reached the quarter-final 12 months ago.

It will be his second clay event of 2024, after reaching the last four in Monte Carlo.

 

Novak Djokovic has only played 12 regular tour matches in 2024, but his reign as world No 1 is set to continue after the events at this week’s Madrid Open.

Djokovic will toast his 37th birthday later this month and history would suggest he should not be topping the ATP Rankings at that relatively mature age for an athlete.

Yet with most of the ranking points in Djokovic’s current record compiled in the second half of 2023, he is still holding a strong lead over Jannik Sinner and Carlos Alcaraz in the race to be No 1.

READ MORE:Novak Djokovic left teenage tennis star fearful of hoax after showing true intentions

ATP Rankings are based on the points earned by the players over the preceding 52-week time frame, with Djokovic’s current total of 9,990 including the 2,000 ranking points he collected at of the French Open and US Open last year.

Novak Djokovic gets warm Australian Open welcome, then cruises to win

He also has 1,200 ranking points on his record from his run to last year’s Wimbledon final, 1,000 points from each of his wins at the Cincinnati and Paris Masters tournaments and 1,300 from his ATP Finals win in Turin last November, where he beat Sinner in the final.

All of those points will come off Djokovic’s ranking in the coming months and with Sinner a little over 1,000 points behind the Serbian in the current live rankings, he could be close to toppling him if he wins this week’s Madrid Open.

Sinner would have been just 330 points behind Djokovic in the rankings if he won in Madrid and that would have given him a glorious chance to overtake the Serbian – who has opted against playing in the Spanish’s capital – in the Rome Masters event that gets underway on May 8.

Yet Sunner was forced to withdraw from the Madrid Open due to an ongoing hip injury and there have to be doubts whether he will now play at the ATP 1000 tournament in Rome.

It means Djokovic is guaranteed to toast his 37th birthday on May 22nd as world No 1, extending his record as the oldest world No 1 in the history of the rankings.

RELATED:Goran Ivanisevic makes Novak Djokovic motivation confession as he discusses Jannik Sinner and Carlos Alcaraz challenge

Djokovic has admitted he is no longer focused on the world No 1 ranking, as he has held that position for more than two years more than any player in history over the course of his remarkable career.

“It’s a matter of weeks before Sinner becomes world No 1,” declared Djokovic earlier this month. “This year the ranking is not my goal.”He’s the strongest at the moment. He has shown it

since the start of this season by being extremely dominant. The results are the consequence of the tennis he is developing, of the confidence accumulated with victories will become world No 1 if he manages to remain as strong.

“When you have a start to the season like that, you give yourself a good chance of achieving this objective, but it will go through the work which will bring the result which, itself, will bring the ranking. He certainly has other objectives before becoming world No 1.”

Novak Djokovic: 'Let's not get ahead of ourselves' | ATP Tour | Tennis

Djokovic could lose his No 1 status if he lost in the early stages of the French Open, but this enduring champion continues to set new records and he believes there is much more to come.

“This year it’s a bit different, but that’s okay, that’s fine,” said Djokovic last month. “There’s still flare inside, I still want to do more in this sport, I still enjoy the thrill of the competition and see how far I can go.

“We’re just in the fourth month of the season. The tennis season is very long, still have three Slams, the Olympic Games, many other tournaments. So going to get ready and try to win more.”

“I like competing with different generations. You have the young guys that are coming up – Alcaraz, Sinner – they’re all incredibly hungry and fit and fast, but I use my adaptability to adjust my tactics and my game to them and understand what it takes to stay at the top and compete with these guys and try to win more titles.

“It hasn’t been the start that I’ve had for most of my career. I’ve been really blessed and fortunate to kick-start most of the seasons in the last 20 years of my career with a win in Australia and that has been very nice to me.

“Obviously when you kickstart the year with a Grand Slam win you get the wind in your sails and it sets the tone for the rest of the season.

UPDATE:Rafael Nadal hints Novak Djokovic has had it easy against new generation

“I feel like it’s so important always to remind yourself to be in the present moment, really to appreciate, to acknowledge, to remember where you came from, the journey, the path, also the people that surround you,” he added.

“I have a lot of people around me other than my family and the closest people in my life. There’s a great team of people that really helps me perform at my best when it’s most necessary. And you know, tennis is also a sport that has a very long season, very, very intense calendar and schedules.

“So every single week there’s something new happening and new events. So I think I will truly be able to appreciate everything that we have accomplished really, only post-career, to be honest, because while you’re still active it’s – what’s the next task, what’s the next challenge?”

 

Teenage sensation Jakub Mensik was worried that he was the victim of a hoax after receiving an unlikely offer from Novak Djokovic. Mensik announced himself earlier this year when he reached the Qatar Open final and cracked the world’s top 100. After reaching the third round in Madrid, the 18-year-old and his coach explained how Djokovic “opened doors” for them.

READ MORE:Goran Ivanisevic makes Novak Djokovic motivation confession as he discusses Jannik Sinner and Carlos Alcaraz challenge

Mensik is currently the youngest player in the top 100, sitting at No. 74 in the world. The Czech star is enjoying a breakthrough season which really got going in Doha. He received a wildcard into the tournament as part of a Next Gen programme allowing young players a free pass into one ATP 250 event and made the most of it, storming into the final.

Novak Djokovic: undisputed king of tennis

The 18-year-old got his first top-five win over Andrey Rublev during his run, also beating the likes of Andy Murray and Gael Monfils before falling to Karen Khachanov in the championship match. And he enjoyed more success in Madrid, upsetting No. 9 seed Grigor Dimitrov en route to the third round, where he was forced to retire injured while facing Felix Auger-Aliassime.

As he continues to climb up the rankings and make his mark on the professional circuit, Mensik and his coach Tomas Josefus explained how Djokovic played a part in his success after selflessly reaching out to offer guidance. “We were taking stock when Jakub received a video on his phone from a Serbian number that he didn’t know,” his coach told L’Equipe.

“He did not hesitate to share his knowledge and contacts. We had closed doors in front of us, Novak opened them.” Mensik, who idolises Djokovic and hopes to face the 10-time Australian Open champion in Melbourne one day, originally thought it could be a scam.

RELATED:Rafael Nadal hints Novak Djokovic has had it easy against new generation

He added: “I first thought it was a hoax, but it was really him. Novak is my childhood idol, you can imagine my joy. Weight, lunch, recovery… Everything he did, I did. I understood a lot of things there. I observed him, I tried to analyse his functioning, how he warms up, stretches, recoveries. He recommended them (contacts) to us and gave us their number. Many things we put in place were thanks to him.”

NOVAK DJOKOVIC MAKES TENNIS AND SPORTS HISTORY BY WINNING ALL-TIME RECORD  23RD GRAND SLAM AT THE FRENCH OPEN | Hublot PT

Mensik also got to learn first-hand from Djokovic when he trained with the world No. 1 ahead of Wimbledon in 2022, before the Serb went on to lift his seventh trophy at the All England Club. “It was before Wimbledon, so I was able to observe his specific preparation for a Grand Slam, all the little details of everyday life,” he explained.

UPDATE:Novak Djokovic still unsure about coaching appointment ahead of Roland-Garros defence

iveDjokovic’s assistance is clearly paying off, as Mensik is enjoying a series of impress firsts. He has already recorded his maiden match wins at Grand Slam and Masters 1000 level and reached his first tour-level final in Doha. Thanks to his impressive start to the year, Mensik is No. 39 in the Race to Turin – a set of rankings made up solely of points earned in 2024.

.Goran Ivanisevic believes Novak Djokovic will beat most players even “if you tie his hands and feet”, but concedes it is a different story when he is up against Jannik Sinner and Carlos Alcaraz

There have been suggestions that Djokovic has lost some of his motivation as he has made a stuttering start to the 2024 season as he is yet to win a trophy so far this campaign with his win-loss record 11-4.

READ MORE:Novak Djokovic still unsure about coaching appointment ahead of Roland-Garros defence

His four defeats have come against Alex de Minaur in the quarter-final of the United Cup, against Sinner in the semi-final of the Australian Open, against Luca Nardi in the third round of the Indian Wells Open and against Casper Ruud in the last four at the Monte Carlo Masters.

Exclusive: Novak Djokovic explains how coach Goran Ivanisevic helps him  chase greatness - 'I need even more motivation' - Eurosport

Despite his lacklustre form, Djokovic has also opted to play a reduced schedule as he skipped the Miami Open and this week’s Madrid Open with his main focus on the 2024 Paris Olympics as well as the French Open, Wimbledon and US Open.

His former coach Ivanisevic, though, is unimpressed by claims that he is no longer as driven as he once was as the Croatian insisted the 24-time Grand Slam winner is still good enough to beat most players although he admits Djokovic needs to be at his best if he wants to get the better of Sinner of Alcaraz.

RELATED:Novak Djokovic still unsure about coaching appointment ahead of Roland-Garros defence

“Training is one thing, and matches are another. You have to train,” he told Sportal.blic.rs. “I see that many criticise him for perhaps having no motivation, but the man broke all the records, won everything he could win and it is not easy to motivate himself again and again.

“If you don’t train you can’t expect great things. He is a genius and he easily adapts to matches, and if you tie his hands and feet, there are players he will beat, but against these two, I mean Sinner and Alcaraz, it is a little more difficult.

Novak Djokovic can win a lot more grand slam titles – Goran Ivanisevic |  main-domain

“Jannik and Carlos are currently five steps ahead of everyone else, I’m not just talking about Novak. But I will repeat for the umpteenth time, everything depends on him, how motivated he is, where he will play and how he will appear on the field.”

This is now the third longest that Djokovic has gone without winning a trophy at the beginning of the year, but he remains at No 1 in the ATP Rankings.

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“It’s stupid to even talk about panic. He also won the first trophy in Rome in 2022,” 2001 Wimbledon champion Ivanisevic said. “What a panic, he is the best in the world, he is not 50th on the ATP list. Everything depends only on him and on which Novak appears on the field.

“If the right, focused one appears, then on any surface to play, everyone can pack up and go home. And if the other one appears, then it’s a different story. We know what his goals are, and I think he will be ready for the Olympics.”

 

Carlos Alcaraz and Jannik Sinner have emerged as the next generation of star names on the ATP Tour, but Rafael Nadal is not convinced they have taken the game to the next level.

Alcaraz and Sinner have made Grand Slam breakthroughs in recent years, with both beating Novak Djokovic on their way to winning the titles at Wimbledon and the Australian Open.

That has sparked suggestions that the next generation is ready to take the game to the next level, but 22-time Grand Slam king Nadal is not so sure.

READ MORE:$6,000,000 PRIZE MONEY CONFIRMED FOR 6 KINGS SLAM WINNER OF NOVAK DJOKOVIC AND RAFAEL NADAL LED EVENT

Alongside Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic, Nadal dominated the big tournaments in tennis for the best part of two decades, with their era slowly coming to an end as the sands of time caught up with the great champions.

Yet Nadal argued Djokovic’s success in winning the Australian Open, French Open and US Open last year confirmed he is yet to be dethroned as the man to beat in men’s tennis, even as he approached his 37th birthday.

You showed why you are kings of clay, says Novak Djokovic to Rafael Nadal -  The Statesman

In an interview with the Tennis Channel, Nadal acknowledged the rise of new stars in the men’s game, but he argued the dominance of Djokovic in 2023 suggests they have not taken the game away from

“I don’t know. No idea. Of course, they are amazing players, but at the same time, if we put in perspective that Novak Djokovic won three of four Grand Slams and played the final of another one, I mean he’s from my generation.

“So of course they’re doing amazing things. But on the other hand, a player from my generation and similar. I mean, of course, little bit better numbers, but a similar level at the level that we played, for a long time, still having a lot of success.

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“That says that tennis has amazing new champions, but at the same time, things haven’t changed that much.”

Nadal’s comments have sparked suggestions that he was hinting Djokovic has had an easier run to Grand Slam titles since he was taken out of the game due to injuries and Federer announced his retirement in 2022.

That observation is backed up by facts, with Djokovic winning 12 of his 24 Grand Slam titles since 2018, when Federer and Nadal were on the slide for a variety of reasons.

Rafael Nadal Vs. Novak Djokovic: Their French Open Semifinal By The Numbers

Djokovic’s longevity at the top of the game is a hugely impressive facet of his legacy, but he has also admitted the challenge of winning big titles has changed since his biggest rivals made their exits.

“So everything happens in life for reason and I think that it’s beautiful for our sport that we had, amazing rivalries that have really marked an incredible two decades,” said Djokovic.

“I remember John McEnroe was saying in one of the documentaries that I’ve seen recently that when Bjorn Borg retired, he felt like part of him also retired, even though he kept going.

“That’s, I must say, a similar feeling that I have with Roger retiring and Rafa not playing much at all. It’s a strange feeling.

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“I mean, I try to find a new rival, and I had some great matches with Alcaraz and Sinner lately, but they still remain the two biggest rivals I’ve ever had.

“I don’t miss them, but I’m sure tennis misses them. These two are legends of our sport. They left a very great legacy both in tennis and in sports in general.”

Djokovic looks certain to finish his career as the greatest tennis player of all-time statistically, but Nadal may well be among those who believes those figures could have a different complexion if he could have continued to play at the top of his game for a little longer.

 

Novak Djokovic is still considering his options on his next coach after the world No.1 announced the end of his six-year partnership with Goran Ivanisevic last month.

Croatian great Ivanisevic helped the Serb win all four of the grand slams during their successful stint together but Djokovic has not performed at optimum this year, failing to win a title or make a final in four tournaments played.

READ MORE:$6,000,000 PRIZE MONEY CONFIRMED FOR 6 KINGS SLAM WINNER OF NOVAK DJOKOVIC AND RAFAEL NADAL LED EVENT

Djokovic bowed out in the semi-finals of the Australian Open and lost at Indian Wells in the round of 32, before deciding to split with Ivanisevic.

Novak Djokovic | Overview | ATP Tour | Tennis

Since the move, Djokovic has joined forces with his country’s former Davis Cup captain Nenad Zimonjić on a trial basis, with the pair recently teaming up for the and the pair for the Monte Carlo Masters, where Djokovic lost to Casper Ruud in the semi-finals.

The 36-year-old is still weighing up whether to appoint Zimonjić on a full-time basis and revealed at the 25th Laureus World Sports Awards that he could even decide to go without a mentor and coach himself.

“I am considering that as well, whether I should or shouldn’t have the coach,” Djokovic said.

RELATED:Novak Djokovic can break an EPIC record at the Roland Garros 2024

“I had a really good time with Nenad Zimonjić as my coach the last three weeks so we’re talking about continuing and seeing. Let’s see, I’m going to make the decision in the next period.

“I’m not rushing. I feel like playing tennis over 20 years and having a lot of different teams and coaches, it’s not like I think I don’t need a coach at all. I think there’s always value in having that quality team and fitness coach, physio, mental coach.

“It’s all important. It creates a formula for success and helps you perform better, train better, recover better.

“Stay on the top for as long as you can. But I think I’m in the stage of my career where I can afford to maybe think having no coach is also an option. Let’s see. I’m going to make my decision soon.”

Novak Djokovic: undisputed king of tennis

Djokovic made the comments after he took out his record-equalling fifth Laureus sportsman award — tying Roger Federer — after titles at the Australian Open, Roland-Garros and US Open to reach a record 24 grand slam singles triumphs.

Djokovic also confirmed he will not play at the Madrid Open in a bid to be fresh for his French Open title defence.

The 36-year-old revealed his next clay court tournament is set to be at the Rome Masters next month as he ramps up preparations for Paris.

UPDATE:Underrated prodigy because he was in same era as Rafael Nadal Fans awed by Novak Djokovic remaining youngest player

“Unfortunately I will not be playing in the Madrid Open this year, hopefully next year – I’m still young, I have time,” he told reporters.

“But I’m preparing my body to be ready particularly for Roland Garros, Wimbledon, Olympic Games and US Open. That’s the most important block of the year for me.

“I’m intending on playing in Rome, so I hope I can be there, be ready. This year has been a bit different for me, the start, I’m still finding my best level of tennis. Hopefully that can still come in Roland-Garros.”

 

Jannik Sinner on Tuesday dismissed the idea that he is the best player in the world right now.

Sinner said he should not be compared to his fellow top-three rivals, Novak Djokovic and Carlos Alcaraz.

The Italian world number two can come within touching distance of the top-ranked Djokovic in the standings should he triumph in Madrid this fortnight and he arrives in the Spanish capital brimming with confidence and carrying an impressive 25-2 win-loss record for the season.

The reigning Australian Open champion, who owns a tour-leading three titles in 2024, is ranked number one in the ATP’s Race to Turin and is 1,650 points ahead of second-placed Daniil Medvedev.

READ MORE:$6,000,000 PRIZE MONEY CONFIRMED FOR 6 KINGS SLAM WINNER OF NOVAK DJOKOVIC AND RAFAEL NADAL LED EVENT

“I think it’s a tough question to answer. We always see only this moment and I think that sometimes it’s good but also not good.

“I still believe that you cannot compare myself with Novak with all that he has done. And the same goes for Carlos. Also, Carlos won more than me.

How Jannik Sinner's 'first strike' tactic has given him an edge over Novak  Djokovic

“I have a lot of respect for both of them. I just try to play my game, trying to understand what works best for me and then we see what I can achieve,” the 22-year-old Sinner told reporters in Madrid

Sinner has never made it past the third round in either of his previous two appearances at the Caja Magica and will be looking to change that this time around.

In the absence of Djokovic, who has pulled out of the tournament, Sinner is the top seed in Madrid, where he faces Richard Gasquet or Lorenzo Sonego in the second round.

RELATED:Novak Djokovic and Iga Swiatek to stay No 1 in 2024? Experts predict the ATP and WTA top eight in the year to come

“I used to struggle quite a lot in the previous years, finding my level here, so it’s going to be interesting to see how I’m going to play this year,” he added.

Alcaraz back from injury

Meanwhile, Alcaraz had no qualms describing Sinner as the game’s best and the Spanish world number three acknowledges it will be tough trying to stop his good friend and rival from taking over the top spot in the rankings.

“He’s dangerous, he’s really dangerous. He’s the best player in the world right now,” said Alcaraz, who is the two-time defending champion in Madrid.

Novak Djokovic handed 'bitter' end to season as Jannik Sinner stuns Serbia  in Davis Cup | The Independent

“Probably everybody thinks that his tennis doesn’t suit very much clay but he gets good results on clay as well, he can win every tournament he goes to, and I’m fighting with him, with Novak, to be in the first spot and I’m trying not to let them stay there.

“Honestly it’s going to be difficult. They deserve to be there and let’s see what’s going to happen in the next tournaments.”

The 20-year-old Alcaraz is coming off a right arm injury that forced him to skip the tournaments in Monte Carlo and Barcelona.

He said he managed to increase the intensity of his training since his arrival in Madrid and is hoping to be 100 percent ready for his opener on Saturday against Arthur Rinderknech or Alexander Shevchenko.

On the eve of the tournament, Alcaraz attended the Laureus World Sports Awards and presented Real Madrid star Jude Bellingham with the Breakthrough of the Year award, giving an impressive speech, in English, in front of a marquee audience.

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“I didn’t feel comfortable on the stage. I was so nervous. I practised that speech during the week almost 50 times just to make sure it was going to be perfect and I was shaking, my legs were shaking. I’m not used to giving a speech in front of legends of the sports and in front of that kind of people,” confessed Alcaraz.

Elsewhere, world number four Medvedev is hoping to avoid another on-court tantrum if faced with questionable officiating after his fiery reaction to disputed calls in Monte Carlo made headlines.

While most big tournaments have adopted electronic line-calling, many clay events still use line judges, given the mark of the ball should be easy to see on the red dirt.

Monte Carlo witnessed numerous issues with officiating though, and Medvedev is aware he has to find a way to control his temper throughout the clay season.

“Mistakes can happen. I wish I hadn’t reacted like this, so let’s see if next time it happens, I cannot promise anything but hopefully, I can focus more on the match than on the mistake itself,” said the 28-year-old Russian.