Novak Djokovic vows to bounce back at Wimbledon following defeat to Rafael Nadal at French Open
The world number one lost in the semi-finals at Roland Garros
Wednesday 12 June 2013
When you are a winner, finishing just short is no consolation.
Novak Djokovic is such an individual, having won seven grand slams in what is a golden age for men's tennis.
Still only 26, he collected a fourth Australian Open crown earlier this year and so far only one grand slam has so far eluded him, the French Open.
Last year he lost a rain-affected final to Rafael Nadal, who would once again prove the scourge of Djokovic this time around.
In what was possibly the best of their 35 meetings, this year's semi-final swung from Nadal to Djokovic before the Spaniard finally secured a remarkable five-set victory after four hours and 37 minutes of jaw-dropping play.
"It's been an unbelievable match to be part of, but all I can feel now is disappointment," Djokovic said afterwards.
"I congratulate my opponent, because he showed the courage in the right moments and went for his shots and when he was a break down in the fifth he made some incredible shots from the baseline.
"That's why he's a champion. That's why he's been ruling Roland Garros for many years, and for me it's another year."
Nadal lived up to his "champion" title by going onto win an unprecedented eighth French Open crown against David Ferrer, leaving Djokovic to plot revenge at the first available opportunity: Wimbledon.
"It's not the first (and) it's not the last loss in my career against this particular player," the Serbian said.
"I wanted this title so much, so I am disappointed. That's it. That's the way I feel.
"I don't think it's going take the toll on me in the future because I have been in these particular situations before.
"So hopefully I can use this next period that is coming up to recover, mentally get motivated and get inspired again to play my best tennis in Wimbledon."
Djokovic heads to the All England Club as bookmakers' favourite to retain the title he won in style against old foe Nadal in 2011.
The Spaniard is unable to dominate in south west London like he does on the clay at Roland Garros. In fact, nobody has been able to in recent years.
The last three editions have involved five different finalists and seen separate winners each time - Nadal, Djokovic and Roger Federer.
All three are amongst the front runners for this year's crown, as is home favourite Andy Murray and French Open finalist Ferrer.
It is Djokovic that leads the chase, though, highlighting his incredible rise over recent years.
Just two years after winning the 2008 Australian Open, people had begun questioning whether the then 22-year-old's best days were already behind him.
How wrong they were. Belief, drive and the masterstroke of switching to a gluten-free diet have helped Djokovic rise to the top of the men's game.
The Davis Cup and six grand slams have all come his way as broke the duopoly Federer and Nadal enjoyed at the top of the men's game.
Djokovic now heads to Wimbledon top of the world standings and, with the finest backhand there is and incredible return game, you would not put it past him adding to his impressive trophy cabinet this summer.
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