Novak Djokovic was clear that he wanted to quickly move on from his third-round defeat at the Monte-Carlo Masters last week against Lorenzo Musetti. The World No. 1 will have his chance to do so in Banja Luka and he is excited for the tournament.
The Serbian superstar is the top seed this week at the Banja Luka Open. He explained in a press conference that he has enjoyed the atmosphere in Bosnia & Herzegovina since he first visited the country more than a decade ago.
“It feels great to be here. I’ve been to Banja Luka several times in the past, once to visit the president and to receive a medal of honor and then the second time was in 2009, I played with Viktor Troicki in an exhibition match in an indoor facility here,” Djokovic said.
“So I remember those couple of visits really fondly,” he added.
At practice on Monday, it was clear how thrilled the local fans were to simply get a look at Djokovic. There was a big crowd of fans behind the barricades to watch the Serbian prepare for the ATP 250.
“The people welcome me wholeheartedly with great reception and so much love and support. So I’m super excited to be here because I think it’s one of the best places for us Serbian tennis players and athletes in general to be able to perform where we have so much love and support from local people,” Djokovic said.
Despite his loss to Musetti, Djokovic has still enjoyed a good start to the season. The 35-year-old is 16-2 in 2023, including titles in Adelaide and at the Australian Open.
Djokovic, a 93-time tour-level titlist, will reach 1,050 tour-level match wins this week if he advances to the final. Only four other men in the Open Era have made that milestone: Jimmy Connors (1,274), Roger Federer (1,251), Rafael Nadal (1,068) and Ivan Lendl (1,068).
The 35-year-old will begin his tournament in Banja Luka against ‘NextGenATP’ Frenchman Luca Van Assche, who battled past World No. 3 Stan Wawrinka 1-6, 7-6(4), 6-4.