I went through big mental struggle, says Djokovic
Novak Djokovic had to straighten out his life away from tennis in order to
bring his best on to the court and the "big mental struggle" paid off when he
clinched an elusive second grand slam title on Sunday.
Having knocked on the door since winning the Australian Open three years ago,
the steely-eyed Serb ripped it off the hinges as he trampled Andy Murray 6-4 6-2
6-3 to win the 2011 edition under the floodlights at Rod Laver Arena.
After a disappointing semifinal exit at Wimbledon last year, Djokovic had to
"settle things" in his head before hitting top form on the way to the US Open
final and an emotional Davis Cup triumph at the end of the season.
"Something switched in my head because I am very emotional on and off the
court," said the lanky 23-year-old, the Norman Brookes Challenge Cup propped up
next to him.
"The things off court were not working for me. It reflected on my game, on my
professional tennis career.
"It's been a big mental struggle because I was trying to separate my
professional life from my more private life," added Djokovic.
"If something isn't working off court, then it's going to reflect on the
court. I managed to solve those problems.
"Of course everybody's facing difficult situations in their lives. To
overcome the crisis and to stand up and try to still dedicate yourself to the
sport was a big success for me as a person."
Djokovic served up a third helping of grand slam agony for Briton Murray, 23,
who lost last year's final in straight sets to Roger Federer and was also
thrashed by the Swiss in the 2008 U.S. Open final.
With Britain's 75-year wait for a men's grand slam champion prolonged,
Djokovic suggested his friend and occasional practice partner Murray could be in
for more pain.
"Of course it's not easy. You could see his struggle and frustrations tonight
because he had chances to win a first grand slam trophy," said the Serb who
muted his victory celebrations in deference to his opponent.
"Every time you get there you want to win it badly but some things go wrong.
You're thinking too much. You're worrying too much in your head.
"It's a mental battle, definitely. Bottom line is that this is a very mental
sport in the end. Everybody is very fit," added Djokovic.
"But it's a learning process, I guess. It wasn't easy for me either. I know
how he feels ... he's still young. I'm sure he's gonna have more chances to win
Having blasted past Federer for a second straight grand slam semifinal,
Djokovic's triumph will inevitably stoke talk of a new era in men's tennis but
the Serb was having none of it.
"Still Rafa (Nadal) and Roger are the two best players in the world," said
Djokovic who will stay at number three when the new rankings come out on Monday.
"You can't compare my success and Murray's success to their success.
"It's nice to see there are some new players in the later stages of grand
slams fighting for a title. That's all I can say."
Djokovic, though, forecast a shorter wait for his next grand slam title than
the three frustrating years since he ground down Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga to
win his first.
"Yes, I feel like a more experienced player. I feel a better player now than
I was three years ago because I think physically I'm stronger, I'm faster,
mentally I'm more motivated on the court," he explained.
"I don't want to stop here. Definitely I want to keep my body healthy, fit
and ready for some more challenges to come."