Novak Djokovic has set his sights on a career grand slam after ending a stunning run of success at the 2011 majors with victory at the US Open.
Djokovic beat Rafael Nadal 6-2 6-4 6-7 (3/7) 6-1 at Flushing Meadows to cap a wonderful year which has also seen him win grand slam crowns in Australia and at Wimbledon.The French Open is the only major to elude him – he lost to Roger Federer in the semis this year – and the Serbian was last night already dreaming of glory at Roland Garros to complete the career set.
When asked if that was an objective for 2012, Djokovic replied: “Sure. Why not?
“There are still a lot of things to prove to myself and to the tennis world. I still want to win many more events, many more major events. So it would be unbelievable to be able to complete the grand slam, to win the French Open.
“It’s something that is definitely an ambition, but it’s going to take time.”
The 24-year-old entered 2011 with just one grand slam title to his name and seemed forever destined to be considered in a class below Nadal and Federer.
He credits a greater level of self-belief as key to the turnaround after becoming only the sixth player in the open era to win three majors in a season.
“I guess at this level you need to win tough matches against top guys in order to get confidence, get self-belief on the court that you can really win majors,” he added.
“So I guess it just clicked in my head.
“I think throughout the last couple of years I didn’t change my game in any major way – I think most of the strokes are the same that they were in the last two, three years.
“It’s just that I’m hitting the shots now that I maybe wasn’t hitting. I’m going for it, I’m more aggressive, and I have a different approach to the semi-finals and finals of major events, especially when I’m playing two great champions in Rafa and Roger.”
Djokovic’s remarkable run this year has not just been confined to the majors. He has won another seven titles and compiled a staggering 64-2 win/loss record which included a 41-match unbeaten run to start the season.
“The results I have had this year are amazing, and definitely something that I haven’t expected,” he said.
“But it keeps coming because I think I have had great scheduling this year. I know when to have a little break, when to rest my body, when to get ready and prepare well for the US Open swing, the clay swing and now the Asian swing. “So I learned to get my scheduling right.
“And with the great team that I have, I guess that helps me to perform my best tennis in the most important events.
“The bottom line is that that’s the whole point, to win grand slams, because these are the most important tournaments and most valuable in our sport, the four grand slams. So this is where you want to win.
“Right now I feel drained emotionally, physically and mentally, but it’s normal after such a long year, so many matches.”
Nadal was, as always, gracious in defeat, and insisted he was happy with his fortnight’s work despite losing in the final for a second successive grand slam event.
“I don’t feel an obligation to win the tournament,” said the Spaniard. “I am not one that feels reaching the final is a bad result. I don’t consider myself that good. Reaching the final is a fantastic result.
“I have won 10 grand slams, this year I won another one, Roland Garros. I lost six finals, but I was there. “So, it’s smart to accept the losses with the same calm as the victories, and keep working without thinking of the past.“I was in the final of Wimbledon, the final of the US Open. I fought in both of them, especially this one.
“I go back to Spain more happy today than after the Wimbledon final, because after here I think I am on the right track to try to beat him. After Wimbledon I didn’t feel that.”
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