Djokovic relieved by the end of impressive season
DUBAI - Agence France-Presse
Novak Djokovic. AP photoNovak Djokovic may be the runaway world number one right now, and favorite to take away Roger Federer’s title at the Dubai Open this week, but he has started this year a relieved man.
Djokovic, who is expected to meet Federer in the final on March 3, has been less worried by the reputation of the sport’s greatest legend than by his own.
The 25-year-old Serbian’s sensational spell of success in becoming a triple Grand Slam titleholder within one season left him feeling, he says, that he might never live up to the new image of himself which suddenly emerged.
“I do feel relief more than when I started 2012,” he admitted. “Following 2011 was an extreme challenge - mentally mostly.
“I found myself for the first time in the position of being number one in the world and defending a Grand slam title - three in a whole year, so that was very challenging.
“So I consider finishing number one in 2012 an even bigger success than in 2011, and I feel I learned a lesson. I understand the experience I went through and I am ready for new challenges.”
It was also a brief relief that Djokovic was also able to focus a little on someone else’s difficulties. They were those of his younger brother Marko, whom he partnered in the men’s doubles.
It was though a slightly surreal experience. On an outside court, which enabled the spectators to watch the world’s number one player without paying, the match took place amidst angry gusts of wind, swishing trees, and at the end, as dusk fell, swooping birds.
Marko Djokovic, aged 21, has risen more than 200 places in the rankings since playing singles here last year, and is at 662 and rising.
But he and Novak lost 4-6, 6-3, 10-4 to Nikolay Davydenko of Russia and Dick Norman of Belgium, and the burden of brotherly comparisons remains immense.
“I have to say it is hard because people compare him to me,” says Novak. “In the junior tournaments and all these years he has been playing tennis he’s been compared to me when I was that age, and it’s absolutely different.
Nadal to miss events after knee injury: Daily
MADRID - Agence France-Presse
Rafael Nadal will miss next month’s ATP World Tour Masters Series events in Miami and Indian Wells, the Madrid sports daily Marca reported yesterday.
The 11-time Grand Slam champion has only recently returned to the court after a seven-month injury lay-off with a persistent knee problem but has decided to only play on clay courts as he prepares his bid for an eighth French Open title in May.
Nadal, who begins his campaign at the Mexico Open in Acapulco later on Tuesday against Argentine Diego Schwartzman, won the Brazil Open in just his second tournament since his return a fortnight ago.
But he admitted on arriving in Mexico that his knee was still was not 100 percent.
“It’s better and I’ve been able to compete but it’s still bothering me,” he said.
“It’s better on some days and worse on others, which isn’t ideal for someone like me, because my idea of competing is based on giving it all at all times.” After his participation in Mexico the World No.5 is expected to return to play the Masters Series event in Monaco in April before also competing in Madrid and Rome before the French Open begins.