Tennis-Djokovic keeps cool head as pressure mounts


Mon, 28 May 19:43:00 2012

Novak Djokovic showed great composure on and off court on Monday as he began his bid to become the first man in 43 years to hold all four grand slams simultaneously with a 7-6 6-3 6-1 win over Italian Potito Starace in the French Open first round.

The Serbian was dragged into a first-set tiebreak, which he won 7-3, before he gradually outpaced the world number 97 with a string of thundering winners.

Instead of trying to deflect all the pressure and attention that has been building up towards his title bid, Djokovic chose to embrace a sentiment voiced by tennis great Billie Jean King.

"Pressure is always present, and the way I look at it, it is a privilege and it's a challenge," Djokovic told a news conference.

"So you need to try to understand and learn how to deal with it, and if you feel pressure, that means that you're doing something that is right.

"So I'm happy -- I'm happy to be where I am at this moment."

Djokovic, who could meet third seed Roger Federer in the semi-final in a rematch of last year's epic last-four tie, is taking a down-to-earth approach to his quest.

"It doesn't give me an extra negative pressure. I really think it's a challenge and something to embrace and to enjoy," he said.

"I'll try to go step by step."

Starace put up a decent fight in the opening set and was only broken in the fifth game of the second before Djokovic, who did not face a single break point throughout, found his stride on a sundrenched Court Philippe Chatrier and raced home in just over two hours.

Djokovic next faces Blaz Kavcic after the Slovenian knocked out former world number one Lleyton Hewitt of Australia.


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