MELBOURNE — Novak Djokovic set his sights on completing the elusive career Grand Slam at this year’s French Open after confirming his mastery of men’s tennis at the Australian Open.
With six Grand Slam titles at the age of 25, the Serbian world number one could be forgiven for taking it easy but immediately after clinching his fourth Melbourne win, his mind was on Roland Garros in May.
Djokovic has gone from the Paris quarter-finals to the semi-finals and the title match in successive seasons, falling to seven-time winner Rafael Nadal last year, and now he wants to take the last step.
“I want to go all the way in the French Open. I went to the finals last year and had a great match against Rafa, but he’s always the favourite on that surface and he’s the ultimate player to beat on clay,” Djokovic said.
“But I think if I continue on playing well, stay healthy, I can have a chance.”
It all seemed routine for Djokovic as he beat Andy Murray in four sets, picked up the trophy and US$2.5 million winner’s cheque, and then headed straight to the airport, eschewing parties and the usual day-after media commitments.
Djokovic was anxious to hurry home in good time for this week’s Davis Cup tie with Belgium. The surface? Clay.
“It’s going to be a lot of fun next weekend to see how I can adjust to a clay court in indoor conditions, playing away Davis Cup, which is always tricky,” he said.
“But, look, right now my thoughts are on this trophy, enjoying it as much as I can. Hopefully I’m going to have time to recover and get ready for that tie.”
Australian Open victories in 2011 and 2012 proved a springboard for Djokovic, who put together 145 wins against just 18 losses over the two seasons and finished both years as the world number one.
With Nadal’s physical state unknown, following his long break with knee problems, victory in Paris does not look a long shot for Djokovic, who would surely then target the hallowed calendar-year Grand Slam.
Djokovic received the trophy from Andre Agassi, another four-time Australian winner who managed to lift all four Grand Slam titles during his career.
Last week, Agassi said Djokovic had lifted the sport to new heights. But asked whether he was now taking tennis into a new era, the Serb parried.
“I leave you guys to judge about changing the game or not. I’m just trying to play this game with 100 percent of devotion, love, passion, and fun also,” he said.
“I mean, 25 years old and I’ve won six Grand Slams and have a lot of trophies. It’s amazing. You know, I’m just trying to embrace this moment and enjoy it as much as I can and see where tomorrow brings me.”