Novak Djokovic eyeing elusive French Open title

The Serbian has joined ‘elite group’ on eight Grand Slams but wants to complete the set

Novak Djokovic was delighted to join the likes of Andre Agassi, Jimmy Connors and Ivan Lendl in winning his eighth Grand Slam title in the Australian Open.

But the world number one has already set his sights on becoming just the eighth player to win all four of the game’s biggest tournaments by claiming a first French Open in Paris.

Djokovic defeated Andy Murray for the third time in a Melbourne final to win his fifth Australian Open on Sunday, adding to his two Wimbledon titles and the US Open in 2011.

The 27-year-old Serbian has twice lost to nine-time champion Rafael Nadal in the final at Roland Garros but believes he has the clay-court game to complete a full set of Slam titles.

“It’s incredible to be able to win eight,” Djokovic said. “I still feel as a 27-year-old I have years to come. Hopefully if I stay healthy and have this disciplined professionalism and commitment to everyday rituals and things I have been doing the last few years, I think I have a fair chance to get myself in another position to win a grand slam or two or three.

“At this point I am happy with where I am in my life and to be able to join the elite group of players like Agassi and Lendl who won eight Grand Slams is quite remarkable and I am very proud of it.

Present moment

“Most of the players will tell you it’s important to have the mindset that keeps you in the present moment and once something is done you move on and try to focus on the next one and try not to think too much in advance or in the past, because that allows you to work and reset your ambitions and your goals.

“But I think you have to be honest and say you think about the amount of Grand Slams you won and tournaments you won and what your place in history is. I definitely have that in the back of my mind and I am very pleased with my accomplishments so far.”

Djokovic reached the French Open final in 2014 and 2012 and four other semi-finals, but is well aware one player in particular stands in his way in Paris.

Nadal has an incredible 66-1 record at Roland Garros and Djokovic added: “I wasn’t too far from winning a title both times when I lost to Rafa but it’s a Grand Slam on the slowest surface that is physically the most demanding one.

“That’s something that makes it more difficult in terms of winning against Nadal, he has lost only one match in his entire career which is probably the most impressive record in tennis history.

“It’s very important [winning the French Open] but if I don’t succeed in doing that in my career it’s not the end of the world, but I am definitely going to keep on trying. I have been very, very close and that allows me to believe I can make that final step and that’s something that keeps me going.”

Djokovic improved his career record over Murray to 16-8 and has won their last five matches, but has sympathy for the fact that the Scot has won ‘just’ two Grand Slam titles.

“If he won a couple more matches he would have maybe five Grand Slams now . . . but this is the generation we are in. There are four players that are incredibly good and very few points decide the winner.”