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Djokovic adopts head in sand approach for French Open

Novak Djokovic of Serbia hits a return to Tomas Berdych of Czech Republic during their men's singles quarter final match at the Rome Masters
Novak Djokovic of Serbia hits a return to Tomas Berdych of Czech Republic during their men's singles quarter final match at the Rome Masters

By Julien Pretot

PARIS (Reuters) - Despite the popularity of social media and the widespread presence of traditional media, Novak Djokovic appeared to believe he could be spared the unbearable truth of discovering who his second-round opponent at the French Open might be.

Just before his pre-tournament conference at Roland Garros on Friday, the moderator announced: "Novak has requested he would like to answer only questions about his first‑round opponent, nothing else to do with the draw at all, top half, bottom half, and he's asked his team not to mention anything about the draw, either.

"If you could respect that request. Thank you very much."

If Djokovic cannot face the fact that he will meet unheralded journeymen Croatian Ivan Dodig or Argentine Guido Pella in the second round, one can only guess how shocked the world number one will be when he discovers he will probably have to face seven-times Rafael Nadal in the semi-finals.

Djokovic repeatedly stressed on Friday that the French Open was "the number one priority of my year, of my season". With the stakes set high, the Serbian felt confident going into his first-round match against baby-faced Belgian David Goffin as he had beaten Nadal in last month's Monte Carlo Masters final.

"I won Monte Carlo tournament. I mean, that was important for my confidence level," Djokovic told reporters.

"Prior to Roland Garros, that is the most important tournament on clay, and I won against the best player on this surface, Nadal, who we all know how good he is on clay.

"So that win against him can give me that necessary mental belief, self belief prior to this tournament."

Djokovic narrowly missed out on joining a select band of players, which includes rivals Nadal and Roger Federer, who have won all four slams when he was beaten in the final last year and he desperately wants to complete his collection over the next fortnight.

"This is where I want to win, and I'm going to go for it. I think my game is there, and I'm very, very motivated," he said.

"I know that if I win this tournament it's going to be part of the history, so I would be very honored to be part of that small, small group of players that manage to win all four grand slams."

(Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Pritha Sarkar)

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