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Djokovic: "There's Definitely A Gap"

Madrid, Spain

Djokovic© Mutua Madrid OpenDjokovic comes into Madrid on the back of his first Monte-Carlo triumph.

World No. 1 Novak Djokovic believes a difference in mental strength plays a pivotal role in separating the Big Four from the rest of the competition on the ATP World Tour. When Djokovic, Roger Federer, Andy Murray and Rafael Nadal are all in action at the same tournament, one of the four has gone on to win the past 26 tournaments they’ve played dating back to Rome 2010.

“There is definitely a gap. The four players are the ones who are winning all the Grand Slams and major tournaments,” said Djokovic. “Men's tennis is in a very high level; competition is getting stronger. But we cannot count out all the other players outside of the [Big] Four. Players like Ferrer, Berdych and Tsonga. These kind of players have shown in the past that they're able to win against the [Big] Four.

“That's why men's tennis is now very interesting. I guess the experience that we have playing on a top level and winning that many major titles helps us get that necessary confidence and also I guess emotional stability in some crucial moments during the match.”

Djokovic is coming off his first triumph at the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters, where he overcame a right ankle injury sustained during the Davis Cup to dethrone eight-time defending champion Nadal. The Serb is optimistic about the progress his ankle has made ahead of his Mutua Madrid Open campaign.

“It's better every day,” Djokovic said. “I've been doing a lot of work from the end of Monte-Carlo tournament till now in order to obviously get ready for Madrid. It's a very big tournament that I like to play. Hopefully on Tuesday or Wednesday, whenever I play, it's going to be perfectly fine.”

The top seed could meet Grigor Dimitrov in his Madrid opener, should the Bulgarian get past wild card Javier Marti.

“He has the capacity to play in a very, very high level because he's very talented. He's an all round player and he showed it,” said Djokovic. “With his style of the game, you think that he can play his best on the hard courts and the faster courts, but he showed in Monte-Carlo when he pushed Nadal to three sets, he can play equally well on clay.

“There is an altitude here of 500 [to] 600 meters, which helps the servers and more aggressive players.  The ball travels through the air faster, so that can make Dimitrov very dangerous on this surface.”

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