Saturday, 1 January 2011

Novak Djokovic - Ready to lift the Australian Open

Serbian world No.3 Novak Djokovic begins his assault for a second career grand slam today with his eyes firmly fixed on Melbourne Park.

Djokovic made a late dash to Perth after a short off-season, arriving from Dubai late Friday night for the Hyundai Hopman Cup.

The 23-year-old will open his 2011 campaign alongside equally accomplished compatriot Ana Ivanovic in the ITF mixed-teams tournament against Kazakhstan's Yuroslava Shvedova and Andrey Golubev.

It will be the first of three guaranteed ties Djokovic hopes will set him up for a charge at the Australian Open, which he labelled as "the right place" to add to his major collection after claiming the 2008 title.

"I always dream of that (taking the No.1 spot) that's been my lifetime goal," Djokovic said.

"To be able to reach that top spot, you have to win majors".

"I am aware of that and my goal for the year is to win a major event, a grand slam tournament, so I will focus and set my form on those tournaments".

"I have to believe. I've (played grand slam finals) in the past three years a couple of times, so I have reason to believe I can do it again".

"The Australian Open is the right place, because that's the only grand slam I've won".

"I love the atmosphere there, I love the centre court. It brings the best memories of my individual career, so I will definitely step up."

Djokovic played down his start to last year, despite making the quarter-finals of the Australian Open and defending his title at Dubai, and was more animated over his charge to the season's end, when he defeated Roger Federer at the US Open semi-finals, before losing to Spanish maestro Rafael Nadal.

The strong showing was followed in Beijing by his second crown defence and a march to the semis of the World Tour Finals, where Federer exacted revenge.

Djokovic conceded Serbia's Davis Cup win over France last month had limited his preparations for the new year, but said some solid matches in Perth, including a duel with Australian veteran Lleyton Hewitt on Tuesday night, would have him firing for the Australian Open.

"The Davis Cup final was a highlight of the season, as well as the US Open, but it was a very short off-season it is what it is but I'm just getting ready for my upcoming challenges," he said.

"It's not going to be easy for me to adjust to the conditions in such a short time".

"(Golubev) is a good player. He had his best year in 2010, won a tournament or two and has a great, one-handed backhand, so he can be a tricky opponent".

"I think it's exciting to play Lleyton, especially in Australia, because we have played so many encounters: the last one was in Wimbledon with a tough four-setter".

"He's a player to respect, as he's been No.1 in the world, he's won two grand slams, he's won everything a player can imagine to win in professional tennis and then he keeps coming back for more and keeps fighting.

"It's going to be really exciting to play him."

Courtesy: PerthNow

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