x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Djokovic finding his feet on grass

Wimbledon will provide an opportunity for Novak Djokovic to set his grand slam record straight following disappointments at the Australian and French Opens.

Wimbledon will provide an opportunity for Novak Djokovic to set his grand slam record straight following disappointments at the Australian and French Opens. Djokovic was the defending champion at the Australian Open in January when he quit midway through his quarter- final against Andy Roddick due to heat exhaustion. His fortunes did not improve at the French Open when he was dumped out in the third round by Germany's Philipp Kohlschreiber.

Instead of being disheartened by his flop in Paris, however, the world No 4 said it had allowed him to find his feet on grass. "I have had more time to prepare for Wimbledon than in the past few years because of the early exit in Roland Garros," the 22-year-old said after the grass court tournament in Halle where he lost the final to Tommy Haas of Germany. "I know that on grass I am not performing the best yet. I am slipping a lot and that happens in the first weeks [on grass]. But I am sure going towards Wimbledon my movement will be OK. I want to do much better than last year."

Djokovic was beaten in the second round of the grass court major in 2008 by Marat Safin but said he was becoming more aggressive on the surface and was adding more variety to his game, including a lethal backhand slice and drop shots. "Grass is an exciting surface. This surface makes you aggressive," the Serb said. "I want to improve my game going to the net. I am using my slice more. This shot can be very useful on grass."

Djokovic said he was also working on his mental strength. "That was a very bad day," he said of his defeat at the French Open. "I was very successful in the clay court season this year and leading up to Roland Garros I had high expectations." Before the clay court major started, Djokovic had been the second favourite for the title behind world No 1 Rafael Nadal as he had turned up in Paris following runner-up finishes to the Spaniard in Masters events in Monte Carlo and Rome.

But it appeared he peaked too soon. "I started the year the way I wanted it. Two, three months extremely successful. But on that day, it was just one of those days. I tried not to get frustrated and hang in there but I just could not," he said. "You have to understand that I cope with a lot of pressure. Physically I do everything I can. It is just a matter of psychology." * Reuters