World number one men's tennis player Novak Djokovic is hopeful that things will progress in the right direction at Madrid Open 2022.
The 20-time Grand Slam champion and the top seed this week at the Madrid Open, has been eager for competitive match play in recent time. Djokovic last played in Belgrade, where he played four three-setters in a runner-up finish at his hometown Serbia Open.
The Serbian lost to Andrey Rublev in a three-set final but he left the ATP 250 event happy with his performance.
"I was looking to spend more time on the court, and that's what I got. So of course playing finals is a good result and I have to be positive about it," he said in a Madrid pre-tournament presser as per atptour.com.
"I like a lot of things about the way I was hitting the ball. Of course it's not at the level still where I wish it to be. It is a process, and I have to be patient. Hopefully things will progress in the right direction also this week." Djokovic who suffered a shock loss in Monte Carlo attributed the gaps in his game to his lack of match play.
"But [it was] different in Belgrade than it was in Monaco," he explained of his fitness level. "Knowing that I played four almost-three-hour matches and long, three-set battles gives me enough reason to believe that it's headed in the right direction.
"I had a very good week of training now, put more emphasis on fitness and building the stamina and endurance, because that's what's going to be necessary in order to compete with top guys on the slowest and physically most demanding surface in our sport."
The 34-year-old will get a bye through the first round of the Madrid Open 2022 and will meet the winner of the clash between Spanish wildcard Carlos Gimeno and Frenchman Gael Monfils.
The Serb, who is back in the Caja Magica after missing the event last year, is in the same section of the draw as the enticing matchup between the British two-time Wimbledon champion and Dominic Thiem. The Austrian, who has recovered from a wrist injury, was a finalist at Madrid Open in 2017 and 2018.