Mind on French Open, heart in Serbia: Novak Djokovic
Devastating floods back home on Novak Djokovic's mind as French Open kicks off today
Paris: Novak Djokovic is chasing the title he wants to win more than any other but his thoughts will be very much on his stricken homeland while he competes at the French Open.
World No 2 Novak Djokovic practices on eve of French Open in Paris. Pic:AP/PTI
Serbia, Bosnia and Croatia are dealing with the aftermath of devastating floods that have affected more than one million people. As one of the highest-profile figures from the Balkans, Djokovic has made it his mission to draw attention to the plight of his compatriots.
He gave all of his nearly 450,000 pounds winnings from last weekend's Rome Masters victory to the relief effort and he knows the hard work is just starting.
Djokovic said: "It's devastating times. The floods are epic proportions. They have forced many people to flee homes. Many people lost everything that they have, that they possessed, and even the loss of their close ones.
"So it is one of the biggest tragedies that the countries of Serbia and Bosnia and Croatia had in their history.
"The positive thing is that these nations who had conflicts very recently, 20 years ago, have at least for a certain time now forgotten about that and they show their solidarity and support to each other.
"Obviously the floods, as they are backing up now, the process of recovery is just starting. It's going to go for a long time.
"We are talking about many years depending on the help that we get from abroad. That was, in a way, my mission and the mission of the people who have certain status and
certain opportunity internationally to spread the awareness.
It wasn't easy because I was playing a tournament in Rome, so part of me was focused on the tournament."
The number of wins Rafael Nadal has registered at French Open during his record eight titles. He has only lost once — his injury-hit defeat to Robin Soderling in 2009