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Djokovic “Very Motivated and Inspired” To Claim Career Grand Slam

Paris, France

Djokovic© Getty ImagesNovak Djokovic will seek to fill the missing hole in his Grand Slam collection.

When Novak Djokovic embarks on his 10th quest for the elusive Roland Garros title that stands between him and Grand Slam history, the stakes will be as high as ever.

Only seven men have completed the 'Career Grand Slam', hoisting all four major trophies, and Djokovic is looking to become the fifth to complete the achievement on the terre battue of Paris. With the No. 1 spot in the Emirates ATP Rankings hanging in the balance as well, the second seed admits that while he is not immune to the pressure, he is ready for the challenge.

“The last few years have been quite successful for me in Roland Garros, especially the last two where I played finals and semi-finals and lost in both of the matches against [Rafael] Nadal, who has the best record on clay and best record here in Roland Garros, and is obviously still the No. 1 favourite to win the tournament this year.

“But I have played some epic matches against him, especially the one last year in the semi-finals,” Djokovic said. “We went the distance, so even though it was a tough loss on me and I was putting a lot of emotional effort into winning this event last year, I still take the positives from that tournament. Knowing that I have gotten closer and closer each year to the title gives me enough reason to be confident for the start of this year.”

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In his first clay-court showdown with Nadal since his self-proclaimed epic in the 2013 semi-finals, a four-hour and 37 minute battle that culminated in a 9-7 fifth set, Djokovic rallied past his rival in last week’s Internazionali BNL d’Italia final. As the Serb’s attention turns to dethroning the eight-time Roland Garros champion, he looks to his victory in Rome as a source of motivation.

“Winning against Nadal on clay is something that doesn't happen every day,” added Djokovic. “The tournament win in Rome came at the right moment for me. For my confidence level it's definitely a booster and a positive thing. Hopefully I can carry that confidence coming into Roland Garros…I'm healthy and obviously very motivated and inspired to play my best tennis here.”

Djokovic opens his campaign against Portuguese No. 1 Joao Sousa, and faces a potentially challenging road with a resurgent Marin Cilic and home favourite Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in his quarter of the draw. The Serb knows better than to take any opponent lightly on such a big stage.

“It's a Grand Slam. It's a two-week long event, best-of-five (sets), and there is a feeling that almost all of the players who are participating in the event have an extra motivation to perform well,” Djokovic said, cognisant of the challenge ahead. “Especially in the early rounds it's important not to underestimate any opponent and not take anything easy. This is where they want to shine. That's where, for us top players, it's always tricky to face the opponents who have nothing to lose in the opening rounds.”

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