PARIS (CNN) – His stellar career is in a slump, but Novak Djokovic said that struggling at tennis means nothing when people are starving to death. The former world No. 1 clinched the last of his 12 grand slam titles in 2016, and has dropped to No. 22 in the rankings after personal issues and elbow surgery affected his form and confidence.
The 31-year-old player was pushed in his second-round match at Roland Garros before squeezing past Spanish qualifier Jaume Munar 7-6 (7-1) 6-4 6-4. Afterward, the Serb remained philosophical about his tennis woes.
“To sit here and talk about how tough it is and you have people starving to death, for me there is no point talking about that,” Djokovic said. “It’s just the way it is. As an athlete, I have to face these challenges.”
Djokovic hasn’t reached the semifinal of a grand slam since losing in the final of the U.S. Open in 2016, the same year that he clinched the Australian Open and French Open titles. “I’m not playing at the level I wish to, but I’m trying not to give up,” said Djokovic, who showed glimpses of his old self before losing to Rafael Nadal in the semfinal of the Italian Open recently. “At times, I do lose maybe a comfort level on the court and confidence, and that’s something that I’m still building gradually.”
“The more matches I play, the better it is,” Djokovic added. “The more I win, of course, the better it is.”
Djokovic will next play 13th seed Roberto Bautista Agut.
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