January 31, 2011 in Sports

Djokovic rides momentum to straight-sets Aussie title

Work pays off with easy Australian Open victory
Bill Scott Deutsche Presse-Agentur
Clijsters moves up; Nadal still No. 1

 Australian Open champion Kim Clijsters will move up one spot to No. 2, while Rafael Nadal will keep his No. 1 ranking despite losing in the quarterfinals to David Ferrer.

 Caroline Wozniacki will hold onto the women’s No. 1 ranking when the lists are released today despite losing to China’s Li Na in the semifinals.

MELBOURNE, Australia – After winning his second Australian Open title over the weekend with straight-set victories over Roger Federer and Andy Murray, cautious Novak Djokovic is still not quite ready to proclaim himself part of a tennis trinity at the top of the rankings.

Nevertheless, there is no mistaking the new-look Serb, who is benefiting from major work on his serving and exhibited the results over the past fortnight at Melbourne Park, capped with his 6-4, 6-2, 6-3 hammering of Murray in the Grand Slam final.

The golden run continues a streak that began last autumn with a second U.S. Open final, another Beijing title and continued on as he led his nation to a historic Davis Cup trophy over France in early December.

“A Davis Cup title and another Grand Slam title – I’m living the dream of a tennis player, definitely,” said the 23-year-old who also won in Melbourne three years ago. “I more focused and dedicated to the sport than I have ever been.”

While Rafael Nadal and Federer were surprisingly not in place for the Grand Slam’s final weekend, their presence still hangs over the top of the sport, Djokovic said.

“Still Rafa and Roger are the two best players in the world, no question about that. You can’t compare my success and Murray’s success to their success. They’re the two most dominant players in the game for a while,” Djokovic said.

The Djokovic who won at Melbourne Park three years ago has been replaced by the current turbocharged version: “I feel like more experienced player, I feel a better player now than I was three years ago, because I think that physically I’m stronger, I’m faster, mentally I’m more motivated on the court.”

Djokovic will remain third in the world behind Nadal and Federer.

While hard court remains his “favorite surface,” Djokovic made clear he plans to challenge Nadal and Federer again in the next two Grand Slams.

“I feel that I have a good game for all the surfaces. I have proven that in the past,” he said. “I feel I can do well at French Open and Wimbledon.”

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