MELBOURNE, Australia, Jan 28 – Novak Djokovic has designs on Roger Federer’s 20 Grand Slam crowns after completing a record-breaking Australian Open victory.
Djokovic won a record seventh Melbourne crown, 15th Grand Slam title and third in a row after Wimbledon and the US Open when he swatted aside Rafael Nadal 6-3, 6-2, 6-3 in a two-hour exhibition of tennis perfection on Sunday.
The Serbian world number one said he was motivated to “have a shot” at Federer’s record but conceded that it was “still far” away.
“I am aware that making history of the sport that I truly love is something special. Of course, it motivates me,” he told reporters after celebrating the demolition of his greatest rival in their 53rd meeting.
“Playing Grand Slams, biggest ATP events, is my utmost priority,” Djokovic added.
It was the manner of victory that had many, including Djokovic, believing he can go on to match or possibly overtake Federer.
At 31 years old, six years younger than Federer, he has time on his side.
– ‘It’s still far’ –
“I do want to definitely focus myself on continuing to improve my game and maintaining the overall well-being that I have — mental, physical, emotional — so I would be able to compete at such a high level for the years to come, and have a shot at eventually getting closer to Roger’s record,” Djokovic said.
“It’s still far.”
Djokovic has already ripped one record from Federer’s grasp — lifting the Norman Brookes trophy for a seventh time put him clear of the Swiss maestro and Roy Emerson, who both won six Australian Open men’s singles titles.
The Serb’s victory was simply magnificent as he embarrassed Nadal in 124 minutes of spellbinding dominance.
The Spaniard had not dropped his remodelled serve since the first round at Melbourne Park 13 days earlier.
But so dominant was Djokovic that he broke the world number two not once, but twice in each of the three sets, lost only 13 points on his own serve while delivering eight aces and committed just nine unforced errors.
The numbers were scarcely believable considering the duo had battled for almost six hours in their previous Australian Open final in 2012 — the longest final in Grand Slam history.
– ‘It’s amazing’ –
“Under the circumstances, playing against Nadal, such an important match, yeah, I mean, it’s amazing,” said Djokovic.
“Obviously back-to-back semifinals and finals, I think I made 15 unforced errors in total in two matches. At this level, as I said, under the circumstances, it was truly a perfect match.”
Djokovic will go to Paris in May for the French Open seeking to become the only man in the Open Era to win all four majors twice, and with victory would hold all four majors at the same time for the second time in his career.
But Roland Garros is where the “King of Clay” Nadal rules, having won 11 French Opens in 13 years. Djokovic would love to dethrone the Spaniard there after humiliating him in Melbourne.
“Obviously I have to work on my game, my clay court game, a bit more, more specifically than I have,” said Djokovic.
“I need to play better than I have last season. I am already playing better. But, I mean, clay specifically in order to have a chance and shot at the title.
“The ultimate challenge there is to win against Nadal. Then you have (Dominic) Thiem and (Alexander) Zverev, Roger is probably going to play,” he added.
“I’m obviously first going to enjoy this victory and share it with my family and friends, then take it from there.”