The Serbian Novak Djokovic has started his title defence at the Mutua Madrid Open with a three-set victory over Spaniard Nicolás Almagro (6-1, 4-6, 7-5). He came through his match on the Caja Mágica’s Manolo Santana Centre Court to progress to the last sixteen of the Madrid Masters 1000.
Djokovic was smiling and relaxed in his press conference after winning a tight encounter in the final set. “I was very lucky to win this match. The 3-0 I the final set was not a favourable situation. I was very focused and I was lucky”. The Serb was also full of praise for the Murcia native’s performance. “It’s tough to play Nico on any surface. He has a lot of strength in his shots, a lot of accuracy. He can hit just as well from both corners”. It was his opponent’s tennis on the clay that made the world number two feel “happy about winning this match because it was a very complicated match against a strong player”.
When asked how he felt after the clash, Nole said he is “aware that I’m not playing at my best, but I believe in myself”. He insisted that he always tries to take positives. “I know I can identify things that haven’t gone the way I wanted them in the game”. Despite the complications throughout the clash, Djokovic was “happy with the way I handled the pressure. I did my work at the end of the match, so I’m looking forward to the next round”.
His motivation to continue working hard is returning to the number one spot: “I’m not the only one who wants that position. Andy Murray is there right now. The hard work pays off. He’s obviously a very experienced player. And you have Rafa coming back now, playing at a very high level, and Roger…”. He knows that it is very difficult because on top of them, there are “the other players, young players that are coming up, they’re very hungry”. He spoke of the pressure of being at the top. “When you’re at the top you always feel like you are being chased, like someone wants to take away that spot from you, which is normal. That’s how it works. I kind of channelled that feeling to motivate myself to find the necessary strength to stay committed and get as far as I can”.
Djokovic also answered questions about the rumours that Andre Agassi will be his next coach. Without wanting to go into details, the Serbian said that he understands that there is speculation about it, but that he will still not say who will fill the position. He did say that he thinks he will have someone “by the French Open”.