French Open 2018: Novak Djokovic plays down problems when 'people starving to death'

Novak Djokovic
Novak Djokovic's last Grand Slam victory came at the 2016 French Open
French Open 2018
Venue: Roland Garros, Paris Dates: 27 May-10 June
Coverage: Daily live radio and text commentaries on BBC Radio 5 live, the BBC Sport website and app.

Novak Djokovic claims his struggles on the tennis court are insignificant compared to real life problems such as poverty, so he just accepts them.

Djokovic progressed to the French Open third round with a 7-6 (7-1) 6-4 6-4 win over Spanish qualifier Jaume Munar.

"To sit here and talk about how tough it is and you have people starving to death, for me there is no point talking about that [his issues]," he said.

"It's just the way it is. As an athlete I have to face these challenges."

The former world number one, 31, was tested by 21-year-old Munar despite winning in straight sets and added: "I'm not playing at the level I wish to but I'm trying not to give up."

Djokovic, seeded 20th, squandered a 5-2 lead in the first set but came through a tie-break.

And although Munar did not give the Serb any respite in the next two sets, Djokovic's experience eventually told.

Sporadic flashes of Djokovic's quality

Djokovic has struggled to rediscover his best form following a return to the court after elbow surgery in January.

This year he has twice lost to players ranked outside the world's top 100 in ATP tournaments and has not won a Grand Slam since the 2016 French Open.

Munar, ranked 155th in the world, fought back in the first set but Djokovic kept his composure to emphatically close out the tie-break 7-1.

Djokovic, a 12-time Grand Slam champion, said his confidence had been knocked since his return, and he was a little scrappy in the second set.

However, he showed fleeting moments of quality in an entertaining final set to see off a spirited effort from Munar in two hours and 18 minutes.

"I went through my ups and downs and I'm not really satisfied with the performance," Djokovic added.

"I just played enough in the right moments to win the match."

Djokovic will face 13th seed Roberto Bautista Agut in the third round after the Spaniard's 6-4 7-5 6-3 win over Santiago Giraldo of Colombia.

'Hopefully Murray is back soon'

Novak Djokovic
Novak Djokovic beat Andy Murray in the 2016 French Open final

Djokovic also had a sympathetic word for Andy Murray as he continues his rehabilitation from injury.

The 31-year-old Scot has not played competitively since Wimbledon last year and had an operation on his right hip in January.

Djokovic said: "We spoke recently. I can only imagine how difficult it is for him, as well, to deal with the circumstances of injury.

"You know, that's something that I can relate to. I mean, I have had quite a similar situation, although his injury takes more time, obviously.

"Hopefully we can see him playing on grass, because that's where, I guess, he wants to play."

Top Stories