World number one Novak Djokovic admitted he considered quitting tennis 10 years ago after a surprise defeat to Jurgen Melzer in the 2010 French Open quarterfinals left him wondering whether he is good enough to play at the top level. Djokovic, who won his first Grand Slam at the Australian Open in 2008, consistently struggled to get the better of his rivals Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. The Serbian ace emerged into the scene a few years after the legendary duo of Federer-Nadal had already made a name for themselves. Also Read - French Open to be Pushed to End of September: Guy Forget
Before coming into the 2010 French Open, the then 22-year-old Djokovic had 17 ATP Tour titles to his name. But he had lost four of his five major meetings with Federer and been beaten in his four Grand Slam contests against Nadal – the two players who were ahead of him in the rankings. Also Read - Nick Kyrgios Takes Another Dig at Novak Djokovic, Tells Andy Murray 'You Are Better Than The Serb'
But a shocker at Roland Garros was waiting for him, Djokovic surrendered a two-set lead against Austrian 22nd seed Melzer to crash out of the clay-court tournament. Also Read - COVID-19: ATP Cancels Eight More Events, WTA Scraps Four as Tennis Tour Suspension Continues
“In 2010 I lost to Melzer in the quarterfinals of Roland Garros. I cried after being knocked out. It was a bad moment, I wanted to quit tennis because all I saw was black.” Djokovic told Sky Sports Italia.
“It was a transformation because after that defeat I freed myself. I had won in Australia in 2008, I was number three in the world, but I wasn’t happy. I knew I could do more, but I lost the most important matches against Federer and Nadal,” he added.
Since then, Djokovic has gone on to win 17 Grand Slam titles and become the first player to taste success at all nine ATP Masters 1000 events. “From that moment I took the pressure off myself, I started playing more aggressively. That was the turning point.”
Last year at All England Club, Djokovic played one of the most stand-out match of his career where he saved five match points against Federer to win an epic fifth-set tiebreak.
“It was one of the two most beautiful matches I’ve played, along with the final against Rafa in Australia in 2012. They are unique matches, everything happened,” said Djokovic.
“From a technical point of view, Roger’s game quality was excellent from the first to the last point – the numbers show that. I played the decisive points well, I didn’t miss a ball in the three tie-breaks and maybe that was the first time in my career.”
“These matches happen once or twice in a career and I am grateful to have been able to fight against a great like Roger in a prestigious arena like Centre Court at Wimbledon.”
Djokovic said that he was ‘mentally empty’ and ‘confused’ at the beginning of the ongoing freeze of the tennis calendar due to the Coronavirus pandemic. The sport has been on a full stop for over a month due to the pandemic outbreak.