The No. 2 seed from France, it is asserted, has always slept well, and in the hallway of the ATP media center here, the discussion has been on how Gael Monfils – the subtle and charismatic player who sits to Djokovic’s right, and to Nadal’s left – has been shrugging off the weight of expectations for the U.S. Open to say, “I’m sleeping in a good place.”
This fellow, Djokovic, with more than twenty million Instagram followers, might not care. And maybe, just maybe, the current version of Roland Garros is a better seed than the version that preceded it in the Roland Garros ring. He does not quite bear the oppressively tense, fidgety figure of the Frenchman Thierry Ascione in his previous seven meetings with the Serb.
Each of the past six Roland Garros quarterfinalists, including Grigor Dimitrov, the 18th seed from Bulgaria, have ended up losing to Nadal or Djokovic. Rafa’s latest victim was the 16th seed, Pablo Carreno Busta, a Spaniard who once hailed from an impoverished small town whose local nickname was “Water Island” for its year-round weather. At 30, Busta still walks around like he is in the immortal line from The Sound of Music, “I do, I do, I do, I do, I do, I do, I do, I do.”
But there is no mistaking the cavalier attitude that Djokovic practices.
“It’s been very interesting for me,” Djokovic said in his box after the semifinal win over Dimitrov. “I don’t feel like I’m in the final of a Grand Slam, you know, for the first time. Not to say I played really well. Obviously it was too close in the end. But it’s a big deal for me, and I’m enjoying it.”