Sixteen years ago, 19-year-old Novak Djokovic lifted the third ATP Tour trophy of his career in Adelaide. The Serbian, now a 91-time tour-level titlist, will try to triumph in the Australian city once again next week when he takes on a tough field at the Adelaide International 1.
“The field is super strong. You have Medvedev, Felix, Rublev. You have really, really top guys,” Djokovic said Thursday. “Also in the opening rounds, you can play Thanasi Kokkinakis, who is title defender, right? That could be fun actually. Playing Thanasi in front of his home fans, could be fun.”
Djokovic knows he will need to be sharp from the first ball at the ATP 250. As the 35-year-old noted, some of the world’s best players will be competing, including former World No. 1 Daniil Medvedev, red-hot Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime, 2022 Nitto ATP Finals semi-finalist Andrey Rublev, Rolex Paris Masters champion Holger Rune and Italian Jannik Sinner.
“I always have faith in myself and belief that I can win every tournament that I play in. I think with the career that I’ve had, I feel like I deserve to have that kind of I guess mental approach,” Djokovic said. “Things are obviously different. Lots of young guys on the tour, [there has been] kind of a shift of generations. But [Rafael] Nadal and myself, [we are] still going strong from the older guys.”
Djokovic added: “I know what I need to do in order to compete with them, in order to be one of the contenders for the title here and in Melbourne. The good memories and good history that I have on Australian soil gives me a lot of positive emotions and belief that I can do it again, that I can go far.”
The Serbian has long enjoyed success in Australia. He has won nine of his 21 Grand Slam championships at the Australian Open.
“The goal is to peak in Melbourne. That’s where I want to play my best. I guess at this stage of my career, with all the achievements, every big tournament win is possibility to make more history. Of course, that’s very humbling for me. It’s also a big challenge, but it’s a huge motivation,” Djokovic said. “I don’t lack inspiration and motivation to play my best”.
For now, Djokovic is fully focussed on making a good start to the year in Adelaide. This morning, he was watching highlights of when he defeated Australian Chris Guccione to triumph in the city in 2007. Djokovic will hope those memories help push him to success next week.
“It’s a great place. People in Adelaide and generally in Australia love tennis, love sports. It’s a sporting nation,” Djokovic said. “Hopefully we’re going to have a lot of people watching and we can have some good time.”
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