Djokovic 'better prepared' for US Open Defense
NEW YORK - Reuters
Novak Djokovic has won in Toronto and reached the final in Cincinnati and says he is confident of another good run in New York to defend his US Open title. AFP photoDefending champion Novak Djokovic said he feels “physically stronger and better prepared” than ever going into the U.S. Open, which begins today.
The world number two, who lost the top spot and his Wimbledon title when he was beaten by Roger Federer in the semifinals last month, has won the last three hard-court grand slams. The 25-year-old bounced back from missing out on an Olympic medal by winning in Toronto and reaching the final in Cincinnati and said he was confident of another good run in New York.
“I feel physically stronger and better prepared than I did last year,” Djokovic told reporters at Flushing Meadows on Saturday. “Mentally I had some ups and downs throughout the season, but I think that was maybe expected in a way. It’s normal to have ups and downs.”
Federer is back on top of the world rankings and is chomping at the bit for a sixth title at Flushing Meadows.
In each of the past two years, Federer has lost to Djokovic in the semifinals, failing to convert two match points on each occasion.
Djokovic’s forehand return on the first match point last year was an outrageous way to dig himself out of a huge hole.
“It brings me the nicest memories, that’s for sure,” the Serb said. “That point saved me from losing the semi-finals and gave me the opportunity to win the title. I did it.”
Federer said tough losses at the French Open and Wimbledon may have knocked his usually supreme confidence.
“But I knew at the U. S. Open I usually play so, so well, and then everything went great. I had a great campaign into the semis and two sets to love up, match points as well. It was just not meant to be,” he said.
His victory over Andy Murray at Wimbledon last month gave him a record 17th grand slam title.
Murray gained a measure of revenge by beating him to win the Olympic title but having regained the number one ranking from Djokovic, Federer believes he is in the form to win again.
“I already reached my goal for the year becoming world number one, getting Wimbledon again and getting a medal for Switzerland. It’s been incredible.
“But I do have this one left for me this year where I really, really want to do well and I couldn’t be more happy returning here as number one. It’s super exciting.”
With his 31st birthday behind him, Federer knows that every missed opportunity is seen as a sign that his best years are gone.
But Federer said he was used to seeing both the highs and the lows in more perspective.
“Right now I know obviously people think I can win every grand slam that comes up and if I don’t win the U.S. Open, I will never win one again. It’s always the same story.”