Djokovic 'progressing slowly but surely' ahead of French Open

Novak Djokovic is "progressing slowly but surely" ahead of the French Open as the world number one took positives from his run to the Serbia Open final.

The Serbian remains without an ATP Tour title this season after losing 6-2 6-7 (4-7) 6-0 to Andrey Rublev on home clay in Belgrade on Sunday.

It has been a disrupted 2022 for Djokovic, having been prevented from playing the Australian Open due to his unvaccinated status, a factor which also meant he was barred from competing in tournaments in the United States last month.

He only made it as far as the quarter-finals of the Dubai Championships in his first tournament of the year in February and suffered a surprise loss to Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in the last 32 of the Monte Carlo Masters.

Djokovic showed signs of improvement in Serbia, though, as he defeated Laslo Djere, Miomir Kecmanovic and Karen Khachanov en route to reaching the final.

Rublev proved a step too far for Djokovic, who faded badly in the deciding set against an opponent aged 10 years younger, but the 34-year-old is remaining upbeat ahead of next month's French Open.

"Things are progressing slowly but surely," he said. "Paris is the big goal and hopefully by Paris I'll be ready.

"I have to look at the positives – playing the final in front of my home crowd, it was unfortunate that in the third set I ran out of gas and couldn't deliver more of a fight.

"After four three-set battles I can say that I am tired but also pleased that I managed to win the matches prior to this one.

"I think that will serve me for the continuation of the clay-court season."

Djokovic is set to return to action at the Madrid Masters in a little over a week's time, an event he enters as top seed.