Novak Djokovic searches for lost ‘mojo’
Djokovic will play in the Rome Masters this week before attempting to defend his title at Roland Garros
World No2 Novak Djokovic said he lost motivation after winning the French Open to complete a career Grand Slam in 2016, but now feels he is on the right path to rediscover his "mojo".
The Serb, who split with his coaching team earlier in May, reached the semifinals of the Madrid Open last week, where he lost to eventual champion Rafael Nadal.
"If I could describe my tennis in one word, I feel like I’m in transition," Djokovic said.
"After winning Roland Garros, I didn’t know how I was going to feel. I never had that issue after winning a big trophy, of bouncing back and finding new ways to motivate and inspire myself.
"But last year I found some emptiness for the first time in my life in terms of motivation. I needed a few months to think about things and get that mojo back on the court."
Djokovic’s victory in France was followed by a shock third-round defeat by Sam Querrey at Wimbledon. He reached the US Open final later that year, but lost to Stan Wawrinka.
At 2017’s Australian Open, six-time champion Djokovic was knocked out in the second round by 117th-ranked Denis Istomin. But that loss has not shaken his confidence that he is on the right path to success.
"I felt that the start of the season went really well for me this year, winning in Doha. I unfortunately lost in Australia, but mentally I felt better and better as time went by. My game just hasn’t been there. I’m happy I reached the semifinals in Madrid, which has been my best result this year. It shows me I’m on the right path."
One thing that remains undiminished is Djokovic’s desire to win. The 29-year-old will play in the Rome Masters this week before attempting to defend his title at Roland Garros.
"If I don’t want to win every match I play, win Grand Slams and be No1 in the world, then I wouldn’t be playing tennis professionally. It’s of course because I want to win, but what people didn’t comprehend is that I needed to dig deep inside of me to find the new inspiration to get the new beginning and a new chapter," he said.
Maria Sharapova guaranteed herself a spot in the Wimbledon qualifying tournament with a first-round victory against the US’s Christina McHale at the Italian Open on Monday.
The former world No1, given a wildcard in Rome after returning from a 15-month doping ban, dropped serve three times in a scrappy first set, but won 6-4 6-2 to reach round two.