PARIS: World number one Novak Djokovic said that he “can make history again” as he looks to hold all four Grand Slam titles simultaneously for the second time, after easing into round two at the French Open on Monday.
Djokovic laid down an early marker at Roland Garros, powering past promising Polish youngster Hubert Hurkacz 6-4, 6-2, 6-2 in his opening match.
The Serbian is one of only three men, along with Don Budge and Rod Laver, to have won four straight Slam tournaments, after his first, and so far only, French Open title in 2016.
Now he can follow in Australian great Laver’s footsteps by achieving the feat twice with victory in the final in Paris on June 9.
“I put myself in a situation where I can actually make history of tennis again and obviously I have very high ambitions for this tournament,” said Djokovic.
“It’s not a secret. But at the same time, it’s not the first time that I’m facing these kind of circumstances. It’s not the first Grand Slam in my career. I have played so many.
“I know it’s two weeks potentially long, and I just need to be in my lockdown mentally, and just do things that have worked for me in the past.”
Twelve months ago, Djokovic dropped out of the world’s top 20 after a shock quarter-final loss to Marco Cecchinato at Roland Garros and even pondered skipping Wimbledon, but he has instead reclaimed his place at the top of the game.
He won his second Wimbledon last July and followed it up with back-to-back triumphs at the 2018 US Open and the Australian Open earlier this year.
“It’s quite (a) different situation for me now than it was 12 months ago, obviously. Very different,” the 32-year-old added.
A single break in the opening game of the match proved enough for Djokovic to take the first set, and the Serb raced through the second in under half an hour.
The 22-year-old Hurkacz, who has claimed three wins over top-10 players this season, had no answer as Djokovic sealed a second-round spot after another dominant set on his first match point.
“I’m focused, I’m determined, and sharp from the blocks. That’s what happened,” he said.
“Even though I never played him (before), never faced him in (an) official match, I still felt he can be a great threat if I allow him to play his tennis.”
Next up for Djokovic is Swiss world number 104 Henri Laaksonen for a place in the last 32.
“I don’t know too much about him, to be honest. I never played against him, and I did watch him play maybe once or twice.
“I’m going to have to do my homework and see what happens