Cape Town - Novak Djokovic revealed he is mentally prepared for a tough first round clash with Fernando Verdasco at the Australian Open.
While the Serb leads their head-to-head stat 9-4 and has not lost to Verdasco since 2010, there are plenty reasons to fear the big Spaniard.
For one, Verdasco knocked out Rafael Nadal in the opening round of the 2016 Australian Open in a near five hour epic.
Additionally, the world number 40 took a set off Djokovic at the recent Qatar Open.
"I just see it as a huge challenge...I hope I'll be able to deliver," the 29-year-old told his press conference on Saturday.
"Fernando is a very complete player on any surface. On any given day, if things go right, he can beat really anybody on any surface.
"He's not overwhelmed by the occasion of playing on centre court. It's the first match of the Grand Slam. We both need to start with the right intensity…but I'm expecting a tough one, there's no doubt about it."
Djokovic endured a troubling close to 2016, where a rampant Andy Murray relinquished him of his number one ranking. However, the defneding champion is not focusing on too much on that, but rather each match as it comes.
"I love playing this sport," continued the six-time Australian Open winner.
"I love competing…I really would like to take one tournament at a time and try to win as many matches as possible. Then, as a consequence to that, if I become number one, I'll be thrilled."