Novak Djokovic Confirms He’ll Play Rome And Madrid, Could Face Rafael Nadal Twice Before French Open

World No. 1 Novak Djokovic will return to the clay courts this week in his native Serbia at the Serbia Open, and also confirmed he will play Rome and Madrid ahead of the French Open beginning May 22.

“I will be in Rome and Madrid, these will be my dress rehearsals for [Roland] Garros,” he said ahead of his first match in Serbia on Wednesday. “We do an evaluation after each tournament, so we’ll see.

“It also depends on how I play here.”

Madrid runs May2-May 8 and Rome follows May 9-15.

Nadal, who has been out with a rib fracture after winning his record 21st Grand Slam title at the Australian Open in January, is just returning to the practice courts and is expected to play both events as well, meaning the two could tangle as much as twice before the start of the French Open.

Djokovic is just 2-2 in 2022 after losing last week in his second match to Alejandro Davidovich Fokina of Spain in Monte Carlo.

The 20-time Grand Slam winner was unable to compete in the Australian Open in January because he was deported ahead of the tournament due to being unvaccinated against Covid-19, and was also unable to play the “Sunshine Swing” in Indian Wells and Miami last month.

“I knew a few days ago when I spoke to you that it’s going to take some time for me to really feel my best on the clay,” he said after that match. “That’s historically always been the case. I’ve never played very well in the opening tournaments of the clay season.

“But it’s okay. Obviously it is what it is. I have to accept the defeat and keep working.”

Said Tennis Channel analyst Paul Annacone: “I just think it’s not a big deal. He doesn’t want to lose but he wants to make sure he’s playing his best tennis at Roland Garros.”