from La Gazzetta dello Sport
by Riccardo Crivelli
translated into English by Mauro Cappiello
Nole: "If I think I've won the same Slams as Edberg and Becker I've got shivers. My target is just to win as much as possible, as long as I can"
There is the fierce Djokovic on court, the warrior with the armor of a superman physical preparation and an overwhelming mental strength. And then there's the one off court, who meets Zheng in the locker room and greets her in Chinese or stages the Gangnam-Style dance with the ball boys during practice: “It 's my way of sharing with the others the happiness to have become what I am. Not all of us are able to do it”. There are two aspects so inextricably linked to the personality of a champion who is slowly taking possession of history: four wins in Melbourne like Agassi and Federer, six Slams like Edberg and Becker.
Novak Djokovic is now tied with Stefan Edberg and Boris Becker at six Grand Slam titles
NOLE AND MELBOURNE – No one, in the Open Era, had won in Australia for three consecutive times. “This tournament is magical to me - he says - the atmosphere of these courts, in the stands, I'm thrilled. I think I feel particularly comfortable here because we arrive after a six-week break, then more relaxed, more focused on things to do”. In Melbourne there are two favorite places: the Botanic Garden (“I love walking in the park along the river, it gives me peace of mind”) and the Orthodox Church of St. Sava.
NOLE AND THE GRAND SLAM - To complete his personal record he only lacks Paris, but it’s clear that the attention of those who are still waiting for Budge’s and Laver’s heir is always focused on the first winner of the year. “If I think about the Grand Slam? It’s a legitimate question to one who started with a triumph in Australia, but even only one win of the four tournaments is extremely difficult and the opportunities are not so many: you must be able to seize the moment. My main goal for the season was the Roland Garros, I’ve never won, but Nadal returns and we must deal with him. Let’s talk about it after Paris”.
NOLE AND MURRAY - Friends-enemies forever. “The one between Federer and Nadal remains the greatest rivalry in tennis history and it is not over yet - Djokovic admits - but in recent years the matches against Andy were very spectacular. And since he finally won a Grand Slam, there is definitely more pressure: yes, it can become the rivalry of the upcoming years”.
NOLE AND THE FAB FOUR - There have been periods dominated by a few players, but in this age Djokovic, Federer, Murray and Nadal seem unapproachable to all the others. “It's very exciting – he analyzes - to be part of a generation where there is Federer, the greatest of all time, or Nadal, the greatest on clay, an incredible agonist, or even Murray, extraordinary in all the defensive stages. The fact is that to remain competitive against the others everyone has had to raise their technical and physical level and consequently we have expanded the reach of those who chase us”.
NOLE AND THE TURNING POINT - There is a moment in which Djokovic has realized that an already extraordinary career could become phenomenal. “It was the Davis Cup win in 2010 that inspired me to improve more and more, to take care of every detail to target the number one. The Davis Cup spirit is incomparable”. That’s why he anticipated the flight from Melbourne to get earlier in Belgium, where he will play Friday in the first round.
NOLE AND THE FUTURE – “When I started, my dream was to become number one and win Wimbledon. I’ve made it. I’m proud to have written pages of history, if I think I have the same Slams as Edberg and Becker it gives me shivers. But tennis is much more competitive now than when I arrived, 6-7 years ago, because all are prepared better, train better, eat better. That’s why the goal is just to keep on winning as much as possible, as long as I can”.
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