Novak: Elbow not in ‘ideal shape’ but good enough

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Novak Djokovic says he is still dealing with an elbow issue heading into this week’s Srpska Open as the 22-time Grand Slam champion looks to get his French Open preparations back on track following his early exit at the Monte Carlo Masters.

Djokovic suffered a third-round defeat to Lorenzo Musetti in Monte Carlo last week.

“My elbow is not in an ideal shape but good enough to be ready for the first match,” Djokovic told reporters Monday. “One of the good things in tennis is that you get a new opportunity to prove your worth every week and take a step forward. I’ve turned over a new leaf.”

Djokovic’s serve was broken eight times by Musetti in his three-set loss.

“Naturally, I wasn’t satisfied with the result in Monte Carlo,” Djokovic said. “But, ever since I landed, I’ve felt welcomed in Banja Luka, a lot of positive energy and positive emotions.”

Djokovic will face 18-year-old Luca Van Assche in Banja Luka, Bosnia and Herzegovina, on Wednesday after the Frenchman claimed a 1-6, 7-6 (4), 6-4 victory over three-time Grand Slam champion Stan Wawrinka.

“I don’t know much about the young French player,” Djokovic acknowledged. “I thought Wawrinka would win the match. I saw (Van Assche) play but not for long, he is a real fighter, fast, it’s difficult to get past him. No one should be underestimated.”

Van Assche, ranked 87th in the world, said it is a privilege to play against Djokovic.

“Novak is a true champion. Not only in tennis but in sports in general,” he said. “It will be an incredible match. I know I’ll have to give my all to win.”

The French Open, the second Grand Slam of the season, begins on May 28.

Information from Reuters was included in this report.

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