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Beyond the Baseline

Djokovic: French Open is 'priority No. 1'

Novak Djokovic Novak Djokovic has made four French Open semifinals and one final. (Jessica Kluetmeier/SI)

Novak Djokovic made no secret about his current goal.

"Priority No. 1 is Roland Garros because it's the only Grand Slam that I haven't won in my career," Djokovic told reporters in Dubai.

Djokovic has knocked on the door in Paris the last two years, carrying a 43-match winning streak at the French Open in 2011 before losing to Roger Federer in the semifinals and pushing Rafael Nadal to four sets in the final last year.

With the seven-time French Open champion Nadal sorting out his form after seven months away, Djokovic may have the best chance in years to hoist the Coupe des Mousquetaires in June. But he welcomes the return of his rival.

"It is great for tennis that he's back," Djokovic said. "Rafa is definitely the ultimate challenge and the toughest one to beat -- he is the king of clay.

"It's a mental battle as much as it is physical, especially if you are playing one of your big rivals in the final of a Grand Slam."

The French Open is three months away. For now, Djokovic is looking to continue his dominance on the spring hard courts, a role he ceded to Federer last year, when the Swiss won Dubai and Indian Wells before Djokovic won in Miami. Djokovic opens his Dubai campaign against Viktor Troicki on Tuesday.
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