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Novak Djokovic makes French Open demand to overcome Rafael Nadal after Belgrade defeat

Novak Djokovic of Serbia acknowledges his opponent after losing a game during the Men's Singles Final of the 2021 Australian Open on February 21 2021, at Melbourne Park in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Jason Heidrich/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Image source: Jason Heidrich/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

World No 1 Novak Djokovic has admitted that plenty of improvements will be needed to stand any chance of taking the French Open title from defending champion Rafael Nadal later this year. The Serb has made it clear on a number of previous occasions that his current aim is to close the gap to Nadal and Roger Federer, who have both won 20 Grand Slam titles.

“Hats off to Karatsev, he was bold and deserved to win,” Djokovic told a virtual press conference. “I will probably not be able to recollect all the memorable rallies in this match because I lost. I am not happy with my performance, I put up a fight but he delivered great shots every time he needed to.

“I was unlucky at times, it all came down to one or two shots but I had too many ups and downs throughout the match.

“Roland Garros is the main goal, but I need to play better if I’m thinking about doing something there. I have a lot of work ahead of me.”

Djokovic would have been hoping for another routine victory against Aslan Karatsev but failed to live up to expectations this time around, succumbing to a narrow 7-5 4-6 6-4 defeat.

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“I am moving and hitting the ball very well,” says Novak Djokovic