Novak Djokovic is prepared to be patient during his injury comeback after his struggles for form continued at the Monte Carlo Masters.
Djokovic suffered defeat to fifth seed Dominic Thiem in the last 16, in Monte Carlo, as the former world number one made another early exit from a tournament.
But after missing the second half of last season with an elbow injury, the 30-year-old has expected his progress to be slow.
Instead of focusing on the loss, he insisted he was happy with wins over Dusan Lajovic and Borna Coric in the opening two rounds.
6-7(2) 6-2 6-3 pic.twitter.com/NVurS02hlM
— Tennis TV (@TennisTV) April 19, 2018
“I’ve had three matches here, I didn’t expect anything. I played without pain in the elbow which is important,” Djokovic said.
“I haven’t played too many matches – six, seven, eight in total since July – so I look forward to build more confidence on the court, to get my game on the desired level.
“I thought the intensity was quite high. It was pretty close until the last game, the last point, we were quite toe-to-toe but he was just the better player in the important moments.
Djokovic looked very disappointed while walking out of the court. I take it as one more good sign. He's feeling competitive again. Really, it could be a turning point for him this week, he gained so much time and found back so much of his game. He's not that far anymore.
— Carole Bouchard (@carole_bouchard) April 19, 2018
“I understand that it’s quite hard to play match after match on a very high level if I don’t have too many matches behind me, if I had an injury, if I had an absence from the Tour for six months.
“All these things we have to take in consideration.
“Obviously, patience is required, trust in the process, believing in myself, in my game, people around me.”