Slowly but surely, Novak Djokovic is arriving at peak form ahead of Australian Open 2013.
The world No.1 kicked off his season at the Hopman Cup, and although initially jet-lagged and sluggish on arriving in Perth, has gradually found his groove.
A surprising straight-set loss to an inspired Bernard Tomic in Serbia’s tie against Australia seemed to snap him into action – Djokovic responded with a 6-2 6-0 demolition of Tommy Haas before cruising past Fernando Verdasco in Saturday night’s final.
Although Serbia were unable to ultimately triumph in that final against Spain, the world’s top player believes his game is in good shape.
“I didn’t want to take anything from his (Tomic’s) win … I mean he played great and that’s it. I knew that I was not close to the level where I could be but you know he deserved to win and it’s alright for me, it’s important for me to get into the groove and get more matches under my belt so I can feel well for Melbourne,” Djokovic said.
“Right now I’m feeling great and Melbourne is you know the priority so I try to get ready for Australian Open as much as I can.”
He certainly knows what it takes to prepare for the year’s first Grand Slam event, coming into the tournament on 14-27 January as the two-time defending champion.
In fact, Djokovic is the best-performed player of anyone in the Australian Open’s recent history, having scooped the title three times (2008, 2011 and 2012) in the past five years. Those title runs have seen him repeatedly dismiss his chief rivals, including Roger Federer, Andy Murray, and in an epic 2012 final, Rafael Nadal.
The Spaniard won’t be contesting the tournament this time around, meaning a major road-block has been removed between Djokovic and an enticing piece of history – he could become the first player to win three straight Australian Open titles since the event has been contested at Melbourne Park.
The last player to win a hat-trick of Australian crowns was Roy Emerson, who actually won five straight between 1963 and 1967.
“It’s a huge challenge,” the Serb said in Perth.
“I love Australian Open, that court brings back the best memories of my career, great support I always get there and night sessions, day sessions, it’s always interesting to play … Every Grand Slam brings something special to it (and) Australian Open is by far my most successful one so I’m really looking forward to it.
“I like the hard court, I like the conditions and I’m going to go for the trophy of course – I have high ambitions for myself but I’m absolutely aware that it’s going to be very difficult because today’s (game) is very competitive and Andy Murray winning his first Grand Slam title last year also got him to this group of players who are serious candidates to win the Australian Open title.”