Novak Djokovic remains confident he can rediscover his best form despite suffering elimination from the Monte Carlo Masters on Thursday.
The former world number one is on the comeback trail from the elbow injury that curtailed his 2017 season after being knocked out of the Wimbledon quarter-finals by Tomas Berdych.
Djokovic has endured a difficult return to the ATP Tour, going down to Hyeon Chung in the last 16 at the Australian Open and losing his opening matches in Indian Wells and Miami.
The Serbian defeated compatriot Dusan Lajovic and then Croatian Borna Coric before going down 6-7 (2-7) 6-2 6-3 to Dominic Thiem in Monte Carlo, but he is still sure of reaching his previous heights once more.
"Ideally, I'd want to be playing the way I played for so many years, but that comes with time," Djokovic said.
"I understand that it's quite hard to play match after match on a very high level if I don't have too many matches behind me, if I had an injury, if I had an absence from the Tour for six months. All these things we have to take in consideration.
"Obviously, patience is required, trust in the process, believing in myself, in my game, people around me. I really believe that if I continue doing what I'm doing so far, believing in myself, I know eventually I'm going to get there. I'm going to get there."
Djokovic acknowledged Thiem outperformed him at the crucial moments and he will decide on Friday whether to compete in Barcelona or Budapest next week.
"There was a lot of positives in this tournament. Three matches played, last two matches have been almost two and a half hours and today three sets against one of the best players in the world, especially on clay," he said.
"It was quite close. I felt like in the beginning of the second set and third set I had my chances and I didn't use them and after that he was a better player.
"But, of course, I wish that I could have played certain points and shots a bit different, but at the same time I have to understand that realistically I'm still not at that level. I'm getting to [it], I'm feeling like it's been getting better every day.
"I've had three matches here, I didn't expect anything. I played without pain in the elbow which is important.
"I haven't played too many matches – six, seven, eight in total since July – so I look forward to build more confidence on the court, to get my game on the desired level.
"I thought the intensity was quite high [on Thursday]. It was pretty close until the last game, the last point, we were quite toe-to-toe but he was just the better player in the important moments."
16 de octubre 2018
|Suns star Booker set to return for season opener|
|Warriors coach Kerr not expecting fast start from NBA champs|
|Fultz to start for 76ers as Brown eyes NBA Finals|
|Maltese champions Valletta want Usain Bolt|
|It would have been normal to kill them! Luis Enrique slams abysmal Spain|
|Seahawks, Trail Blazers owner Paul Allen dies aged 65|
|Red Sox ace Sale released from hospital, still set for game five|
|Beer-throwing fan banned by Patriots|
|Southgate lauds ´tremendous´ attackers after famous Spain win|
|Djokovic closing in on summit as he scales new heights|
|Monaco the natural move for Henry - Martinez|
|Ending England drought a ´beautiful feeling´ – Sterling|
15 de octubre 2018
|Halep to face Pavlyuchenkova in Moscow comeback|
|NBA 2018-19: Five non-LeBron James storylines to follow|
|Spain 2 England 3: Kane inspires Three Lions as Sterling ends drought in style|
|Bosnia-Herzegovina 2 Northern Ireland 0: Dzeko double leaves O´Neill´s side on the brink|
|Mannarino stops the rot in Moscow|
|Neymar pleased Brazil will not face Messi in Argentina clash|
|Buccaneers fire defensive coordinator Mike Smith after loss to Falcons|
|´Surprised´ Deschamps accepts he could´ve made more effort with Koscielny|
|Kuwait 0 Australia 4: Socceroos deliver win for new coach Arnold|
|Van Dijk fit for Liverpool return - Koeman|
|NBA 2018-19: Eastern Conference predictions|
|NBA 2018-19: Five rookies to watch|
|Denly replaces injured Dawson in England ODI squad|
|Low confirms under-fire Neuer to start against France|
|NBA 2018-19: Western Conference predictions|
|Bolt offered two-year deal by European club, says agent|
|NBA 2018-19: LeBron the Laker - what it means|
|Griezmann ahead of Mbappe for Ballon d´Or - Modric|
|Billy Vunipola ruled out with fractured arm|
|Get the chequebook out! - Mayweather talks up potential Khabib clash|
|Amla ruled out of Australia tour|
|Class act Hamilton more complete than ever - Wolff|
|NBA 2018-19: It´s a big season for - Ball, Kawhi, Carmelo, Love & Cousins|
|Bellew: I have no fear of Usyk|
|Birthday boy Ozil is the most creative player in Europe|
|CSA reveals De Villiers and Rabada involved in Mzansi Super League|
|FA condemns England supporters involved in trouble in Seville|
|Gascoigne hits back over Scottish Hall of Fame snub|
|NBA 2018-19: LeBron closing in on Jordan, Curry chasing Miller and Allen|
|Ter Stegen should start ahead of Neuer for Germany – Matthaus|
|England´s Sterling impressed by Sancho´s work ethic|
|Vandoorne seals switch to Formula E|
|Halep to end 2018 as world number one|
|Sri Lanka´s Jayasuriya charged by ICC with breaching anti-corruption code|
|Vermaelen out for six weeks with hamstring injury|
|LeBron and Irving did not fall out, says ex-Cavs trainer|
|Ramsey out of Wales´ clash with Republic of Ireland|
|Bolt angry with drugs test|
|Bad luck is not a coincidence – Kimmich concerned by Germany form|
|Mahomes: Chiefs need to win like Brady and the Patriots|
|Schuster warns Real Madrid not to panic-buy striker in January|
|We´re here to win! - Paine not happy celebrating a draw|
|Injured Thauvin out of Germany clash|
|Southgate hits out at early Premier League start|
|Modric to Inter talk is ´fantasy´, says Guardiola|
|Pats hand first loss to Chiefs after wild shoot-out|
|Cowboys, Ravens dominate as Pats beat Chiefs in NFL classic|
|Brady becomes first QB to 200 regular-season wins in NFL|
|Red Sox level series against Astros|
|Mbappe leaves red-faced Dembele on his backside|
|Red Sox ace Sale admitted to hospital with stomach illness|
|From UFC to NFL? McGregor throws pass for Cowboys|
|Ancelotti praises ´dangerous´ Mbappe|
|Uncapped Papalii named in All Blacks squad|
|Kane would star in LaLiga – Ramos|
|Guardiola unsure about Man City´s Champions League chances|
|Dzeko: Premier League return? You never know|
|Gurley dominates to help Rams beat Broncos|