Novak Djokovic insisted on Saturday there will be no repeat of his sensational US Open disqualification at Roland Garros as the world number one promised: “I won’t make the same mistake twice”.
Djokovic was defaulted in New York when a ball he swiped away in frustration struck a line judge.
As well as attracting wide-ranging condemnation for his perceived petulance, the incident also went down in the record books as a defeat – the Serb’s only loss in 32 matches in 2020.
“Well, obviously I am going to be extra careful of hitting a tennis ball around the court,” said Djokovic.
“That’s something that is staying in my mind after what happened in New York. It’s going to stay there for a long time.
“Of course, I will make sure I don’t make the same mistake twice.”
The aftermath of his New York brain fade hasn’t, however, slowed down the Djokovic juggernaut.
He captured the Italian Open in Rome on Monday for a record 36th Masters title, breaking out of a tie with Rafael Nadal.
It was also his fourth trophy in five events this year.
He also took his total weeks spent in the world number one ranking to 287, passing Pete Sampras on the all-time list and with just Roger Federer on 310 ahead of him.
“I really want to be my best version as a player, as a human being on the court, and win a tennis match,” added Djokovic.
“It is what it is. I don’t think significantly it (the default) does impact me (or) that I’m unable now to show the fist pump or scream or something like that. It has happened in Rome already and everything is fine.”
Now the 33-year-old takes aim at a second French Open title to add to his 2016 victory, a triumph which made him just the third man in history after Don Budge and Rod Laver to hold all three Slams at the same time.
Victory in Paris would also take Djokovic to 18 career Grand Slams, one behind Nadal and two off Federer’s record.
Djokovic is seeded to face 12-time Roland Garros champion Nadal in this year’s final.
On Friday, Nadal complained of the new Wilson balls being used this year in Paris, claiming they are too heavy for a clay court.
The Spaniard also believes they could cause shoulder and elbow problems for players.
Djokovic sympathised with Nadal’s fears but pointed to the effect of the autumnal conditions in the French capital.
“I agree that the balls are heavy. But also it’s probably because we are also almost in October, and it’s very cold,” said Djokovic, one of just two men to have beaten Nadal at Roland Garros in 15 years.
“The clay is also heavy and wet. Just overall conditions are also affecting the ball itself.
“It’s very hard to say whether the ball is heavy in general or is it because we are playing under these kind of slow and heavy conditions.”