French Open: Aljaz Bedene feeling strong for Novak Djokovic test

Aljaz Bedene
Victory for Aljaz Bedene would mean Britain has two players - the other being Andy Murray - in the fourth round of the French Open for the first time
French Open - Bedene v Djokovic
Venue: Roland Garros, Paris. Date: Saturday 28 May. Time: 15:30 BST approx
Coverage: Live BBC Radio 5 live sports extra radio and text commentary on the BBC Sport website and app

British number two Aljaz Bedene says he had to employ a strength and conditioning coach to specifically prepare him for grand slam tennis.

Slovenia-born Bedene, who plays world number one Novak Djokovic in the third round of the French Open on Saturday, credits his work with Martin Skinner as the platform for his recent success.

"I was really unfit when I started to play grand slams," said Bedene, 26.

"Whenever I played a fourth set I was just losing them quite easily."

He added: "I remember once at the US Open, I lost 6-0external-link and I was struggling. I really wanted to improve on that.

"It obviously helps not only in the fifth set but also in the other tournaments."

Bedene is buoyed by Thursday's five-set, second-round victory against Pablo Carreno Busta when he recovered from squandering a two-set lead to advance at Roland Garros.

However, he lost his only other meeting with Djokovic in straight sets at the Australian Open in 2015.external-link

He is hoping his experience of winning 16 Challenger and Futures events will stand him in good stead for the game, which is last on the main court.

"I love big crowds," he said. "I won a lot of Italian Challengers, and every time you play the final there are 1,000, 2,000 people, which is a lot for Challengers.

"So I did learn a few things. I know this stadium is bigger, but still you have to come from somewhere."

Djokovic has not hit top form yet and was given a tough test by qualifier Steve Darcis in round two, although he is still to drop a set.

The Serb is expecting more of the same against Bedene, who is being coached at Roland Garros by Britain's Davis Cup captain Leon Smith.

"He's very talented, with a very quick motion for a first serve," said Djokovic. "So I'm expecting a tough one. I know he doesn't have anything to lose."