Major setbacks making Djokovic stronger

AFP| Last Updated: May 31, 2014, 04:46 AM IST

Paris: Novak Djokovic believes his six defeats in Grand Slam finals have made him grow up fast as he takes aim at an elusive first French Open title.

The world number two, who is being tipped to dethrone eight-time Paris champion Rafael Nadal and become just the eighth man to complete a career Grand Slam, currently has a major finals record of six wins and six defeats.

By comparison, Nadal has 13 major titles and six finals losses while Roger Federer boasts 17 Grand Slam titles with seven defeats in championship deciders.

"I have had tough losses, a lot of tough losses," said Djokovic, who came closest to a French Open breakthrough in 2012 when he lost to Nadal in the final.

But the hardest defeats to take for Djokovic were in successive US Open finals in 2012 and 2013 to Andy Murray and Nadal respectively.

Against Murray, he went down 7-6 (12/10), 7-5, 2-6, 3-6, 6-2 and against Nadal last year it was all over in four sets, 6-2, 3-6, 6-4, 6-1.

His last major remains his fourth Australian Open secured in 2013.

"I have had the last two finals in the US Open that I thought I should have won," said the 27-year-old.

"But again, I always played against the top players, either Rafa or Andy or Roger. And, you know, our rivalries have had a lot of tough, great matches on the top level fighting for Grand Slam titles. Some of these I won, some of these I lost.

"It`s all part of the experience, part of the growing up."

All of Djokovic`s losses in major finals have come against fellow members of the big four -- Nadal at the 2012 French Open, Murray at last year`s Wimbledon and four times in New York to Federer in 2007, Nadal in 2010 and Murray and Nadal in the last two years.

But the Serb is not one to dwell on the setbacks.

When it comes to his high points -- he has two.

"The biggest one is Wimbledon in 2011, I won against Nadal and won the title and became world number one," said Djokovic of a year which saw him sweep three of the Grand Slams.

"That was the probably the biggest day of my career. And also the Davis Cup in 2010. That`s also a very special, special title in my career."

Djokovic reached the fourth round of the French Open on Friday by beating Marin Cilic 6-3, 6-2, 6-7 (2/7), 6-4, his ninth win in nine meetings with the Croat.

He next faces Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, the man he beat to capture the first of his Grand Slam titles in Australia in 2008.