Novak Djokovic insisted Sunday he is motivated and inspired by the opportunity to win a first French Open and become only the eighth man to complete a career Grand Slam.
The world number one has five Australian Open titles, two Wimbledon crowns and a single US Open, but has yet to crack the clay courts of Roland Garros in Paris losing to nine-time champion Rafael Nadal in the 2012 and 2014 finals.
But the 27-year-old is the form player of 2015 having captured the Australian Open as well as the Masters titles at Indian Wells, Miami and Monte Carlo for a record of 30 wins and just two defeats in the year.
â€œThe question coming into each year: is this going to be the year or not?,” said Djokovic as he faced down the familiar enquiry over his chances at the French Open with the second Grand Slam event of the year just two weeks away.
“That is the question present in my head, but it is not a question that is distracting me or bothering me; it excites me,” added the Serb who is top seed at the Italian Open in Rome which gets under way later Sunday.
“It gives me inspiration and motivation. The approach of being in the moment also helps, so I need to be devoted to this tournament first.”
If Djokovic were to win an elusive first French Open then he would join Fred Perry, Don Budge, Rod Laver, Roy Emerson, Andre Agassi, Roger Federer and Nadal as one of a select band of men to have completed the Grand Slam.
Victory in Paris would also put Djokovic halfway to a calendar Grand Slam — a feat achieved only by two men.
America’s Budge was the first in 1938 before Australian legend Laver pulled it off twice, in 1962 and 1969.
But Djokovic isn’t looking too far ahead, preferring to concentrate on lifting a fourth Rome title on his return to action after opting out of the Madrid Open which was concluding later Sunday.
“I want to build a platform to get off and perform well,â€ Djokovic told www.atpworldtour.com at Rome’s Foro Italico.
â€œAt this level you need freshness of mind and also fresh legs in order to perform well to overcome the challenges of long and exhausting matches on this surface. I hope my decision to skip Madrid will positively effect this week and Roland Garros. We’ll see.
â€œI have done things in the right way over the past couple of weeks. My whole team is here â€“- both coaches (Marian Vajda and Boris Becker) -â€“ so we are taking it really seriously and we hope to have a good result.â€
Djokovic has a bye in the first round in Rome before facing either Spain’s Nicolas Almagro or Italian wildcard Luca Vanni.