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."
|Liverpool ´made a point´ with PSG victory - Gomez|
|Osaka wows Tokyo crowd on WTA return|
|Excited Povetkin arrives in England for Joshua showdown|
|Kovac patience with Sanches set to reap rewards|
|Kovac: Madrid strong without Ronaldo, Messi is the best|
|ATP suspends umpire Lahyani over Kyrgios ´pep talk´ at US Open|
|North and South Korea seek to co-host 2032 Olympics|
|Ampadu signs long-term Chelsea contract|
|Don´t blame Neymar, PSG players all guilty - Thiago Silva|
|Real Madrid seek to plug Ronaldo scoring gap – Champions League in Opta numbers|
|Brewers allow Cardinals to inch closer with loss to Reds|
|Manchester is still red – Depay ahead of Lyon´s clash with City|
|Orioles become first pro team to wear braille jerseys|
|Klopp hails ´brilliant´ Henderson|
|PSG attack lacked aggression, says Tuchel|
|Atletico Tucuman 0 Gremio 2: Libertadores holders draw first blood in QFs|
|Thomas plays down wrist worry|
|Rakitic wants more from Barcelona hat-trick hero Messi|
|My players aren´t s*** – Pochettino defends Spurs squad|
|Cubs reliever Morrow won´t return this season|
|Tebow expected to be back in Mets organisation next season|
|Inter can compete against anyone – Icardi revels in Champions League victory|
|Tuchel: PSG loss to Liverpool not logical or correct|
|Sturridge in best shape I´ve seen – Klopp|
|Milojevic celebrates ´fantastic´ occasion after Red Star´s 26-year wait|
|Rodrigo and Simeone salute Griezmann display|
|Seahawks DE Clark on Bears QB Trubisky: He´s nothing special|
|Carroll says Wilson has been ´over-trying a little bit´|
|Judge returns to Yankees´ starting lineup|
|Napoli boss Ancelotti takes aim at Red Star time wasting|
|Favre admits young Dortmund stars struggled in Bruges|
|Otavio would trade goal for Porto victory as he bemoans Schalke draw|
|Championship Review: Pacesetters Leeds crush Preston, Villa end five-game winless run|
|Neymar world-class but not a defender - Klopp says Liverpool targeted PSG star|
|Waiters injury update: Heat guard unlikely to be ready for start of season|
|Gojowczyk eliminates returning Tsonga in Metz|
|Liverpool enjoying best start in 57 years after PSG win|
|Galatasaray 3 Lokomotiv Moscow 0: Terim´s side make light work of Russians|
|Club Brugge 0 Borussia Dortmund 1: Super sub Pulisic scores late winner|
|Schalke 1 Porto 1: Fahrmann saves one penalty, but Otavio scores another|
|Red Star Belgrade 0 Napoli 0: Points shared as Italians fail to make possession pay|
|Liverpool 3 Paris Saint-Germain 2: Firmino strikes late as Reds edge five-goal thriller|
|Monaco 1 Atletico Madrid 2: Costa and Gimenez seal comfortable win|
|Chaos reigns in Serie B as league denies suspension claim|
|India secure Asia Cup victory despite valiant Hong Kong effort|
|Messi makes "extraordinary routine", says Valverde after Barca star surpasses Ronaldo|
|Spalletti´s Inter to take heart from Tottenham turnaround|
|Casillas features in landmark 20th Champions League campaign|
|Spurs deserved more from best performance of the season - Pochettino|
|Brown absent from Steelers facility on Monday due to ´personal matter´|
|Toronto´s Bussey given eight-match biting ban|
|Barcelona 4 PSV 0: Marvellous Messi lights up Camp Nou|
|Inter 2 Tottenham 1: Icardi, Vecino complete dramatic late turnaround|
|Allegri, Chiellini defend Costa over spitting ban|
|Firmino only fit enough for bench duty|
|Kovac applauds Sanches ahead of Benfica homecoming|
|Tomlin confirms Steelers WR Brown was absent from facility on Monday|
|Mourinho tells United to follow Federer´s lead amid Young Boys pitch concerns|
|Costa banned for four Serie A matches for spitting|
|PGA Tour announces changes to FedEx Cup Playoffs format|
|Rashford to start against Young Boys, Mourinho confirms|
|Ryder Cup heading to Congressional in 2036|
|I never listen to stupid things - De Gea unconcerned by criticism|
|Aguero trains as Mendy sits out Man City session|
|Lampard fined after accepting improper conduct charge|
|Serie B suspended after Pro Vercelli win appeal|
|Mitchell returns to England as defence coach|
|Brady completes Cornet upset in Guangzhou|
|Lopetegui giving no guarantees to ´fighter´ Navas|
|Di Francesco denies racially abusing Costa|