By Chris Oddo | Saturday, August 23, 2014
Though disappointed with his pre-US Open performance, Novak Djokovic says he's feeling better and better in the lead-up.
Photo Source: Canadian Press
Speaking to reporters ahead of next week’s US Open, world No. 1 and top seed Novak Djokovic says he’s come a long way from his self-proclaimed flat form in Toronto and Cincinnati. Though many consider him the favorite to win in New York (oddsmakers currently have the Serb installed as the favorite), most are doing so despite Djokovic’s alarming lack of crispness in his round of 16 losses earlier this month at the ATP’s two hard-court pre-US Open Masters 1000 events.
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The natural assumption heading in to the events was that Djokovic, buoyed by his Wimbledon title and emotional wedding to longtime partner Jelena Ristic, would begin an ascent to the untouchable form that saw him dominate the sport in 2011. Though the absence of Rafael Nadal at the 2014 US Open due to a wrist injury makes Djokovic’s path to the title a decidedly easier one, he hasn’t played like a man hungry to take advantage of the opportunity. Djokovic addressed the late-summer malaise in a conference with reporters at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center today.
“I'm feeling better and better as the days go by,” Djokovic said. “It's something that is encouraging me for this year's US Open campaign. Obviously I want to peak with my form in the US Open.”
Djokovic has freely admitted that he was disappointed with his results after Wimbledon, but the man who won his 7th career Grand Slam six weeks ago believes the great tennis will come once he’s finished processing the life-changing events of the early summer.
“Yes, I wanted to do better in Canada and Cincinnati,” he said. “Unfortunately I wasn't even close to my best. But a lot of things happened in the last two months, and it was very emotional period. I just felt a little bit flat on the court. I wasn't managing to find that intensity and the perfect mindset. But it's all normal. It's something that I'm experiencing for the first time, right?”
Asked if the flat performances in Canada and Cincinnati have caused him to lower his expectations at all, Djokovic stated that he feels he’s still at the physical peak of his career, and therefore is ready to get after it.
“I have high expectations for myself,” he said. “I always have. Especially at this stage of my career where I feel like now is the time that I'm at my peak physical strength. I want to use this time of my career as much as I can to win as many matches as possible.”
Djokovic will begin his bid for a second US Open title by playing Diego Schwartzman of Argentina in the Monday night session (second match) on Arthur Ashe Stadium.