Paris: The pressure to win is always high, and the pressure to keep on winning is even worse.
For Novak Djokovic, the world's best tennis player at the moment, that just means a challenge.
The 25-year-old Serb is trying to win his fourth straight Grand Slam singles title, and he made it into the second round of the French Open on Monday by beating Potito Starace of Italy 7-6 (3), 6-3, 6-1.
"Well, pressure is always present. And the way I look at it, it is a privilege and, you know, it's a challenge," Djokovic said. "If you feel pressure, that means that you're doing something that is right."
Djokovic is definitely doing something right.
He won the Australian Open, Wimbledon and U.S. Open last year, and began this year with his third title in Melbourne.
He only needs the French Open title to complete a career Grand Slam. But more amazing is his chances of winning four straight majors.
"It doesn't give me an extra negative pressure. I really think it's a challenge and something to embrace and to enjoy," said Djokovic, who lost in the semifinals to Roger Federer at Roland Garros last year. "As I said, I'll try to go step by step. It's really too early to talk about eventually getting my hands on the trophy, but it's definitely a goal."
Djokovic didn't have any problems on Court Philippe Chatrier on Monday, but he did have some trouble putting Starace away in the first set.
Although he didn't face a break point in the entire match, he missed all three of his own break chances in the first set and his first five in the third game of the second set.
After that, things started to click.
"At the start ... I was still trying to find the rhythm and movement on the court. And he obviously played a very good first set," Djokovic said. "But when I look at it now, after the match is over, maybe it was good for me to have the tough first set."