Djokovic sets sights on being world No 1

Updated: 2011-01-31 07:52

(China Daily)

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 Djokovic sets sights on being world No 1

Novak Djokovic of Serbia kisses the winner's trophy after beating Andy Murray of Britain in their men's final on the 14th and final day of the Australian Open on Sunday. Djokovic won 6-4, 6-2, 6-3. Greg Wood / Agence France-Presse

Serb blasts away Scot to claim second Australian Open crown

MELBOURNE - Serbia's Novak Djokovic has long threatened to challenge Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer's dominance of men's tennis, and now he may be finally making good on his promise.

The world No 3, once known for his jokes and impersonations, has emerged as a more sober, reflective figure at the Australian Open, where he has claimed his second Grand Slam title.

Djokovic said he was transformed from the brash 20-year-old who swept to the 2008 Australian Open title against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, but who has taken three years to claim Slam No 2.

"I was a 20-year-old kid hitting as hard as I could with closed eyes and everything was going in back then. It was great. Felt great," he said.

"Then over the years I faced some new situations, the pressure of defending Grand Slams and things like that.

"You grow up. You get this knowledge and the necessary experience. You just have to accept that as a good school and move on. That's what I did."

Djokovic has now ousted 16-time major-winner Roger Federer in two consecutive Grand Slam semifinals, either side of leading Serbia to a historic maiden Davis Cup win at home.

He has suffered Grand Slam final defeats to Federer and Nadal, in the 2007 and 2010 US Opens, but has triumphed over Tsonga and now Britain's Andy Murray, whom he beat 6-4, 6-2, 6-3 on Sunday.

Confidence is never in short supply for the Serb, and he has been in brilliant touch over the past two weeks in Melbourne.

Apart from a surprise dropped set against Croatia's Ivan Dodig, Djokovic has been flawless, destroying Tomas Berdych before stunning Federer - both in straight sets - and romping to victory against Murray.

The gregarious Djokovic, nicknamed Nole, was born in Belgrade in 1987, and grew up in the midst of bitter conflict during the break-up of the former Yugoslavia. He dedicated Sunday's win to his homeland.

"It has been a tough period for our people in Serbia but we are trying every single day to present our country in the best possible way, so this is for my country," Djokovic said.

He first played Murray as a junior around the age of 13, and picked up his maiden tour title at Amersfoort in 2006. Djokovic has now won 19 tournaments and has finished as world No 3 for four consecutive years.

But his sights are also set on prising away the No 1 ranking from Federer and Nadal, who have shared the honor for the past seven years.

"Sure, I believe that I will make it one day," he said. "I don't know if it's going to be this year or next year, or in the next three or four years - I am really trying to work hard towards that lifetime goal."

Djokovic celebrated the win by stripping down to his shorts on court, and joined Serbian fans for some raucous chanting outside the stadium, showing his playful side remains.

Agence France-Presse

(China Daily 01/31/2011 page24)


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