Novak Djokovic is confident his poor recent run of form will improve ahead of the French Open.
The former world number one, whose last Grand Slam crown came at the 2016 edition of Roland Garros, has struggled since returning to the tour at the start of the year and had surgery on his long-term elbow injury after the Australian Open.
More recently, the Serb, who has won 12 major titles, slumped to a shock defeat against Slovakian qualifier, World No.122 Martin Klizan, in the second round of the Barcelona Open – meaning he has failed to reach the last eight in any of the five tournaments he has played in 2018.
But, despite this, Djokovic believes his elbow problems are fixed and behind him, admitting that he has been playing virtually pain-free for the past month.
“I still want to continue tennis at the highest level. I am very motivated and I have always aimed high and this hasn’t changed,” the 30-year-old told reporters at his training base in Belgrade on Wednesday.
“I believe that things will sort themselves out very soon and I hope for some better results in the next few weeks.”
Djokovic added: “Basically it is now all about improving my fitness.”
Having split from coaches Radek Stepanek and tennis legend Andre Agassi last month, Djokovic has rekindled his relationship with long-time ally Marian Vajda – a man who has been a trusted figure within his team for many years.
Djokovic is scheduled to play the Madrid Open next week, where he has twice won before, and then the Italian Open straight after, according to his official website.
The French Open then commences on May 27.
Djokovic, who is currently ranked number 12 in the world, said: “We have made plans until the end of the clay season – three more tournaments ending with Roland Garros.”
“After that we will sit down again … and make further plans.”
Anabel Medina started working with Jelena Ostapenko in Stuttgart end of April and less than two months later, her 20-year-old Latvian charge has become a Grand Slam champion.
Medina, a former world No16 in singles, who still competes in doubles, is one of just a few female coaches working on the tennis circuit. The Spanish describes herself as a “rookie coach”, but has no doubt caught the attention of many due to her successful start with Ostapenko.
Ostapenko, who has risen to No12 in the world on Monday thanks to her French Open triumph, is the highest-ranked player in the WTA being coached by a woman. Her mother, Jelena Jakoleva, is her main coach, and adding Medina to the team was an experiment that paid dividends immediately.
World No13 Kristina Mladenovic doesn’t have full-time coach per se but works with her mother Dženita Mladenovic, while No14 Madison Keys is coached by ex-world No1 Lindsay Davenport.
Still, female coaches are hard to come by on both the women’s and men’s tours. Medina, 34, believes women can be great coaches and it is not a lack of know-how or capability that is holding them back.
“In my case it’s like something amazing,” she told Sport360° of her brief but highly successful time coaching Ostapenko.
“The truth is there aren’t so many female coaches, but it’s not because we’re not able to do it. I think because maybe after our singles and doubles career, after a long time traveling on the tour, after that I think most women want to take a break and start a family and have kids and everything.
“So if they want to have that it’s very difficult to be a coach because you’re traveling for more than 30 weeks a year and with kids you can’t do that.
“So I think in my case I didn’t find this moment yet, because I’m still playing doubles, so I didn’t really feel that I want to be out of the tour so for that reason I started to try to be a coach. I think that’s the main reason why there aren’t so many women coaches on the tour.”
Prior to the French Open, the last women’s Grand Slam champion to be coached by a female was Marion Bartoli, who has Amelie Mauresmo in her corner when she won Wimbledon in 2013.
Medina’s initial agreement with Ostapenko was to help her during the clay season but they will now discuss whether they will continue their partnership.
For now, the Spaniard is still yet to fully comprehend their whirlwind fortnight in Paris.
“I think I haven’t realised yet what happened these two weeks and after I’ll understand everything. It’s very exciting, I’m also trying to feel what coaches are feeling because I’m a player and it’s different. It’s really nice and I’m really enjoying it. I think that after I finish playing completely, I found something that I really enjoy,” said Medina.
There were plenty of tear-jerkers throughout the fortnight in Paris. Here are the top five most emotional moments from the 2017 French Open.
1. Pablo Carreno Busta could barely speak during his Eusosport Spain interview with Antonio Arenas after the Spaniard battled past Milos Raonic in five sets to claim the first top-10 win of his career and reaching a first Grand Slam quarter-final.
2. Between Nicolas Almagro’s agony over another injury and Juan Martin del Potro’s incredible act of sportsmanship, this was a heartbreaking yet equally heartwarming moment.
3. Garbine Muguruza broke into tears midway through her press conference after she lost to Kristina Mladenovic. She had to leave the room but then came back and bravely continued the press conference. It’s not often you see raw emotion from the Spaniard but hats off to her for how she handled the situation.
4. We have to admit that the moment Toni Nadal walked on court and handed his nephew Rafael Nadal the 10th French Open trophy really tugged at our heart strings. Not only was it Rafa’s first Slam win in three years and a milestone 10th in Paris, it’s also the last Roland Garros for Rafa and Toni together with the world No2’s uncle stepping down as his coach end of this season. Toni could barely hold back his tears when he spoke to us after the trophy ceremony.
5. Steve Johnson broke down after defeating Borna Coric in the second round but it wasn’t about the win. The American lost his father Steve Johnson Sr. just a few weeks before Roland Garros. He died suddenly in his sleep at the age of 58. Our heart goes out to Steve and his family.