Djokovic recharged and ready to shake off 2016 slump

By Matthew Scott 18 January 2017 75
Djokovic recharged and ready to shake off 2016 slump

Novak Djokovic says an end-of-season break helped him "recharge" and be able to begin 2017 in top form after a stuttering conclusion to last year.

2016 was in many respects astonishing for Djokovic. He won a sixth Australian Open, his first French Open to complete a career Grand Slam and also moved into record-breaking territory in ATP 1000 Masters events.

However, the latter part of the year was disastrous by his lofty standards. He lost in the third round at Wimbledon amid reports of off-court problems, was eliminated in the first round of the Olympic Games and was usurped at the top of the rankings by Andy Murray after losing to the Brit at the ATP Finals.

A victory over Murray in the final at Doha has helped Djokovic enter Melbourne hot, though, and he dispatched of Fernando Verdasco in the first round 6-1 7-6 (7-4) 6-2 on Tuesday.

"I wish sometimes our off-season is a bit longer. But it is what it is," he told a news conference.

"I still had enough time to be at home and to recharge and spend time with family and doing some other things that keeps my mind a little bit off tennis, which is important at times to balance.

"The tennis season is, in fact, the longest season in sports. Very demanding. But a great sport. I love it. It's given me so much.

"It keeps pushing me to find my own limits, goals, ambitions, capabilities. I really strive to always be better than I was yesterday.

"Surely the off-season has served me well, as you used the term 'reset,' and kind of just reflect on the entire year, what I've been through, because there was some wonderful moments and incredible highlights. Especially the one in Roland Garros. 

"The second part of the year where things haven't been really up to standard, had ups and downs in results, dropped the number-one ranking.

"But, again, Andy was there for a reason. He had an incredible last couple months of the year.

"But all in all, as I said, it served well. Already in the last couple weeks, I was real eager to come back into the court and get into the competitive mode, just be back in the office, if you want to call it that way. 

"I'm not the only one that enjoys it. Obviously there are many players that really are appreciative of this sport and what it gives us. Already early in the season we have the Australian Open. So it's the best way to start the year."

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Matthew Scott