Thursday 20 June 2019

Djokovic: I've won all Grand Slams before, so why not again

Novak Djokovic. Photo: WILLIAM WEST/AFP/Getty Images
Novak Djokovic. Photo: WILLIAM WEST/AFP/Getty Images

Paul Newman

Novak Djokovic is already looking forward to the challenge of winning the French Open this summer and holding all four of the sport's Grand Slam titles for the second time in his career.

The world No 1's 6-3, 6-2, 6-3 victory over Rafael Nadal on Sunday in the Australian Open final leaves him needing to win at Roland Garros to repeat his feat of 2016.

Djokovic admitted subsequently that for years he had put too much pressure on himself trying to win the title in Paris to complete his Grand Slam collection. This time he thinks it will be different.

"I did put a lot of pressure on myself in the past," Djokovic said after parading with the Australian Open trophy in Melbourne's Royal Botanical Gardens.

"I lost several finals in a row and then managed to win it in 2016. Winning the French Open in 2016 was the biggest relief I have ever felt in my entire life, so the approach to the French Open this year will obviously be quite different. I think I'm just more experienced with this kind of situation."

Asked what he felt about the prospect of holding all four titles, Djokovic said: "I don't want this to sound arrogant, but I've done it once so why not do it again? I'm just one Slam away from that."

Djokovic now has 15 Grand Slam titles, which puts him one ahead of his boyhood idol Pete Sampras who held the record until Roger Federer passed him. Federer now has 20 Grand Slam titles and Nadal has 17.

Does the world No 1 have his eyes on Federer's record? "Well, if I'm still playing and winning Slams I think it's logical to conclude that I do," he said. "I'm blessed to be able to win 15. I know there are two guys ahead of me now in the history of the most Slams won. But I still have time. I'm not rushing."

Djokovic said he looked forward to Federer playing at the French Open for the first time in four years. "Roland Garros and the tennis world in general missed him on clay last year," the 31-year-old said.

"He's the greatest champion this sport has ever had so I'm definitely looking forward to having him there."

Djokovic said he would continue working hard to maintain his fitness in order to carry on competing for a good while yet.

"I do feel young, I do feel fresh, I do feel fit," he said. "I don't think about age. I don't think about any limits. So far, so good. I think what's most important is to nurture that love for the game. I think it all starts in your heart and in your mind as well. If I want to keep going I will keep going. I think my body will listen."

Djokovic said that the prospect of making history continued to motivate him.

"Playing Grand Slams and the biggest ATP events is my utmost priority in this season and in seasons to come," he said. "How many seasons are to come? I don't know.

Independent News Service

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