Novak Djokovic admits lack of match play can be a concern moving forward as uncertainty over his schedule looms ahead due to his inability to enter many tournaments without being vaccinated.
The Serb fell in the Dubai quarter-finals on Thursday to Czech world No.123 Jiri Vesely and as a result, lost his number one ranking to Daniil Medvedev, who is set to replace Djokovic at the top on Monday.
Djokovic, who was competing in his first tournament of the season after being deported from Australia last month, gave credit to Vesely, who consistently put pressure on him during his service games.
However, he added: “I’m lacking a little bit of the match play. You can see that; I’m still finding the groove on the court.”
The 34-year-old concedes that not being able to recapture the rhythm of matches because his vaccination status could prevent him from competing consistently is a concern.
“It is. The more matches I play, the more comfortable I get on the court,” said Djokovic, who currently cannot enter the United States for next month’s Masters 1000 tournaments in Indian Wells and Miami.
“I need the match play. I didn’t have many matches at all last few months. Let’s see.
“Obviously I’ll have to follow the situation, see how it goes. Wherever I get an opportunity to play, I will. Hopefully that will be soon.”
Djokovic’s record 361-week reign at the summit of the rankings will come to an end on Monday but he says he remains motivated to get back on court and keep fighting for the biggest titles in the sport.
“My goal is to keep on playing tennis. That’s the ultimate goal. For as long as I really feel like it, to be honest, and as long as I can play, as long as my body allows me, as long as the circumstances in my life as well,” said the 20-time major champion.
“Of course I’m still motivated and I’m still pissed off when I lose a match. I care about it. I care about winning every match, as anybody else on the tour, regardless of the age.
“I’m actually glad that I’m feeling a lot of emotions every single day because it means that I really want to be part of this sport, part of the tour.”