Novak Djokovic has confidently suggested his biggest Australian Open threat is himself as he looks to reprise the 2023 Melbourne form he rates as good as any.
The 24-time major champion has won the last four times he’s visited Melbourne Park, blitzing Stefanos Tsitsipas in last year’s final despite being hampered all tournament by a hamstring injury.
The world No.1 was only denied a 2023 grand slam sweep by brilliant young Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz, who beat the Serb in a five-set Wimbledon final.
“I’m just hoping I can start the season in a way that I have been starting my seasons, most of my seasons... with a win here in Australia, in Melbourne,” Djokovic said.
“My favourite place, no doubt; the court where I’ve done great things and achieved my greatest grand slam results.
“That was one of the best tennis levels that I’ve played, here in Australia last year.”
Djokovic was troubled by a wrist injury when he lost to Australian Alex de Minaur at the United Cup, ending a staggering 43-match winning streak dating back to 2018 in the country.
The 36-year-old rates this complaint of less consequence than last year’s dodgy hamstring and knows, despite the presence of No. 2 Alcaraz, who calls the shots on Rod Laver Arena.
“Myself always first, and then of course all the other best players in the world,” he said when asked who his biggest threat was.
“Any player is here with, I’m sure, intention to achieve the dream of winning a grand slam.
“Some players are obviously more expected to go further than some others.”
Djokovic will begin his campaign on tonight against Croatia’s Dino Prizmic, potentially after a visit to the nearby Royal Botanic Gardens.
“It’s a wonderful park where I like to spend time and just be by myself in nature, just grounding, hugging trees, climbing trees and stuff,” he said when asked if he’d developed any superstitious Melbourne habits.
“I love to do that. So I’ve done that for, yeah, last 15 years.
“Whether that’s a secret of success here in Australia or not, I don’t know, but it has definitely made me feel good.”
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