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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 it."

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."

With Reuters

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