World number one Novak Djokovic says as much as he would like to win a fourth Indian Wells title, claiming the elusive French Open crown is taking priority over everything else.
The 27-year-old Serbian star is aiming for back-to-back Indian Wells titles to go with his fifth Australian Open title won earlier this year.
He has two Wimbledon crowns and one US Open but has yet to lift the trophy at Roland Garros, having finished runner-up twice.
Novak Djokovic of Serbia signs autographs at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden in California, on March 12, 2015 ©Harry How (Getty/AFP)
“The highest priority is the French Open,” he said Thursday at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden stadium. “The French Open of course is the Grand Slam I’ve never won. But I’ve had a lot of good tournaments there. I played a couple times the finals there, got a step closer.”
Djokovic said he doesn’t agonize over his defeats in the final of the French but rather sees them as a learning experience.
“I use the losses as a way to grow mentally, physically and emotionally as a player so I can understand what I need to do better,” he said.
He said Thursday he doesn’t want to dwell on whether it will happen this year but he plans to show up in top condition and ready to go the distance.
“It’s still too early to talk about it. The difference to those goals and approach is I won’t put too much pressure on myself.
“I don’t want to take away too much energy thinking about if I will make it or not.”
Djokovic knows the drill in the two week Indian Wells tournament which saw the men’s first round singles round get underway Thursday. He won in 2011 and 2008 before conquering Swiss star Roger Federer in last year’s final.
Federer seeks his fifth Indian Wells trophy after sweeping titles from 2004-2006 and taking the top prize in 2012.
Also bidding for a fourth Indian Wells championship is Spain’s Rafael Nadal, who won in 2007, 2009 and 2013.
Since 2003, the only Indian Wells champion not from among that star trio is 2010 winner Ivan Ljubicic.
“It can’t stay that way forever,” Djokovic said. “I think we expect a new generation to come along.”
Djokovic had his career breakthrough in Indian Wells in 2007 when he reached the final for the first time. Djokovic would parlay that success to break into the top 10 and then win his first major at the Australian Open.
Djokovic’s three Indian Wells titles ties him for second most with Jimmy Connors, Michael Chang and Rafael Nadal, behind Federer’s four.
Rafael Nadal of Spain talks to the media during the BNP Paribas Open tornament, at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden in California, on March 11, 2015 ©Julian Finney (Getty/AFP)
Andy Murray of Great Britain, seen at a practice session during the BNP Paribas Open tournament, at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden in California, on March 12, 2015 ©Julian Finney (Getty/AFP)
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