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Djokovic Playing With Extra Incentive In Cincinnati

Cincinnati, U.S.A.

Djokovic© Getty ImagesNovak Djokovic is chasing the Career Golden Masters in Cincinnati.

There aren’t too many trophies missing from Novak Djokovic’s cabinet, but victory at the Western & Southern Open next week would complete the set of ATP World Tour Masters 1000 trophies for the Serb, making him the first player (since 1990) to complete the Career Golden Masters.

After a disappointing third-round defeat for Djokovic at the hands of Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in Toronto, the Serb was to be found hard at work with Stan Wawrinka for two hours on the Cincinnati practice courts Sunday. Having finished runner-up in Cincinnati four times previously, the 27-year-old Djokovic has extra motivation to lift his 20th Masters 1000 trophy here in a week’s time.

"[Completing the Career Golden Masters] obviously adds more importance to this tournament for me,” said Djokovic. “I care about winning this title a lot. I lost four times in the finals. I haven't been really close in those finals either. I haven’t been able to perform my best in this tournament when it was needed. 

Watch Career Golden Masters Feature

“But I did have a lot of good matches in Cincinnati. Hopefully I can go one step further this time, but I haven’t been playing as well as I wanted in Toronto. So these couple of days I've put a lot of hours in on the practice court to upgrade my game and get my level of performance where it needs to be in order to have a chance to go far in the tournament.”

Djokovic has a 21-9 match record in Cincinnati, finishing runner-up in 2008 (l. to Murray), 2009 (l. to Federer), 2011 (l. to Murray) and 2012 (l. to Federer). He is bidding for his fourth Masters 1000 crown of the season following victories in Indian Wells (d. Federer), Miami (d. Nadal) and Rome (d. Nadal), and has won five of the past seven Masters 1000s, dating back to Shanghai 2013 (d. del Potro).

However, the newly married Belgrade native, who made his return to action in Toronto this week, told press on Sunday that the tournaments are getting harder to win as the depth on the ATP World Tour continues to grow.

“It's definitely not easy to get yourself in the mindset and be 100 per cent in your mental, physcial and emotional abilities after what I have experienced in the last month or so,” said Djokovic, who married his childhood sweetheart Jelena Ristic on 10 July in Montenegro. “But it's not the first time that I've experienced this gap in the season, so I know what I need to do to get myself in the right shape and hopefully I'll do it. 

“It's easier said than done. I feel like comparing the competition we had in men's tennis five years ago, it's quite different now. It's much stronger. There's a new generation of players that are able to challenge the big guys and that makes our lives a bit more difficult on the court. It's more reason to work hard and try to get yourself better than them on the court.”

Djokovic will open his Cincinnati campaign against Gilles Simon or Bernard Tomic.

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