Australian Open

Novak: No New Year hangover

2012-01-14 19:23
Novak Djokovic (File)

Melbourne - After drinking deep from the cup of confidence on the way to three grand slam crowns and the world number one ranking, Novak Djokovic's intoxicating 2011 ended in exhaustion and injury.

The Serbian insists, however, he has slept off the hangover and spoke wondrously of a remedy often prescribed but rarely taken by the world's top players. Rest.

"Almost three weeks (off)," a refreshed Djokovic told reporters on Saturday, looking dapper in a starched-white shirt and sports jacket.

"I had some commitments after I finished in London for a week or so, then I had two weeks of the real rest, without racquet, without any physical involvement.

"It came at the right time really. I needed it more than anything at that stage. I had time to reflect on what I have achieved in 2011.

"I was very proud obviously of the whole success. But I was also aware of the fact that I don't have that much time to enjoy that success, that I have to rest and then continue on with the preparation for the new season."

Of course rest is a relative term for the hard-working Djokovic, who remains committed to Serbia's Davis Cup cause despite having long argued for a shorter season as a players' advocate.

He participated in no warm-up tournaments ahead of Melbourne Park, but still had no time to go Christmas shopping for himself.

"I haven't bought anything. My coach told me to practice on the Christmas Day, so you can imagine how that looked," Djokovic quipped.

Despite hitting the practice courts hard in recent days, Djokovic feels no reason to change anything in his game, taking an attitude of "if it ain't broke, don't fix it".

Minor tweaks here and there, a bit more variation in his serve and the usual platitudes about "consistency" point to a player content with the status quo and holding respect, but little fear, for the likes of Roger Federer or Rafa Nadal.

Djokovic amassed a winning streak of 41 matches and finished 2011 with a 70-6 record.

But rather than put the record on a pedestal to gather dust and be admired from time to time, the Serbian has consigned it to the wastebin of history.

"I think everything is possible. Obviously 2011 has been the best year so far in my career. It's going to be very difficult to repeat what I have done," he said.

"But I've done it once. Why not twice? Why not stay optimistic and positive about the whole season? It's a start. Obviously I'm not thinking too far away from Australia. My focus is directed to this tournament.

"I feel that I'm at the peak of my career. I feel that physically, mentally, game-wise, I'm right up there. I can perform equally well on any surface, as I have proven in 2011. That's my focus. That's something that I'm thinking of. Just taking it slowly, step by step."


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