*** ----> Djokovic skips Madrid Open but is aiming for Rome | THE DAILY TRIBUNE | KINGDOM OF BAHRAIN

Djokovic skips Madrid Open but is aiming for Rome

AFP | New Delhi     

The Daily Tribune – www.newsofbahrain.com

World number one and record 24-time Grand Slam champion Novak Djokovic will not play at the Madrid Open this week but is hoping to appear in Rome.

Media reports said the 36-year-old Serbian star had pulled out of the tournament in the Spanish capital and he was not included in the draw on Monday.

Djokovic is yet to win a title this season and has only played in four tournaments this year, having decided to lighten his schedule.

After being named World Sportsman of the Year for the fifth time at the Laureus Awards in Madrid later Monday, Djokovic said he was aiming for the Italian Open before defending his French Open title from May 26.

“Unfortunately, I won’t be able to play in Madrid this year... I’ve planned to play in Rome, so I hope I’ll be able to do that, if I prepare well,” Djokovic told reporters.

“This year has been a bit different for me, I haven’t yet found my best level of tennis and I hope I will at Roland Garros.”

Djokovic has now pulled out of the Madrid Open three times in four years. The Serb is a three-time champion at the two-week clay court event in the Spanish capital.

It is his second Masters 1000 withdrawal this year after skipping the Miami Open in March.

Djokovic said he is “preparing his body” to be ready “especially for Roland Garros, Wimbledon, the Olympics and the US Open, the most important part of the season for me”.