PARIS (AP) — Being such a perfectionist, Novak Djokovic is not quite happy with his French. His play? That's a different story.
After reaching the fourth round at Roland Garros for a men's-record 12th consecutive year with another easy win Saturday, the 18-time Grand Slam champion from Serbia was doing rather well speaking French until he was asked to get a bit more technical and talk about the playing conditions, then his next opponent.
"Sorry, I am trying to learn more words," the No. 1-ranked player said with a self-deprecating smile as he fumbled a bit for more specific vocabulary. "I have used up 90% of my French."
Courtside interviewer Cedric Pioline encouraged him, and so Djokovic obliged.
"The conditions were different. How do you say in French?" Djokovic said, this time truly lost for words.
So he moved his hand to describe the height of the ball bouncing in overcast and cool conditions compared to hot conditions in the previous two rounds, and looked hopefully across to Pioline, who helped him out with a couple of words.
"The bounce was lower," a relieved Djokovic said. "I think I coped well."
His next opponent is a 19-year-old Italian, Lorenzo Musetti.
"He is a young player who plays with a lot of spin, speed," Djokovic said, measuring his words out slowly but surely. "He has nothing to lose, so I need to be ready for this challenge."
That was enough Francais for one afternoon.
"Stop there, please!" Djokovic implored Pioline in French, quickly moving his hands together and then apart as a film director would when shouting "Cut!"
Djokovic was clearly in high spirits, tilting his head back and laughing. And why not? In his 6-1, 6-4, 6-1 victory against 93rd-ranked Ricardas Berankis, Djokovic never faced a break point and compiled 30 winners to only 18 unforced errors.
Djokovic, who has dropped a total of 23 games across three matches so far, was still chuckling as he walked slowly off the court and into the fourth round once again.