Novak Djokovic and his coach already have their eyes on the US Open.
Novak Djokovic’s coach Marian Vajda is hoping the Serb can ride the wave of momentum from his “surprise” Wimbledon victory into the North American hard-court swing that will culminate with the US Open in September.
Djokovic ended a two-year Grand Slam title drought with success at SW19 earlier this month, a win that gave him a 13th major crown and a place among the world’s top-10 once again.
With his elbow problems and self-doubt well behind him, Djokovic is now getting ready for his favourite surface and a return to the US Open after missing it through injury last season.
New York is where Djokovic made his first Grand Slam final – he lost the 2007 final to Roger Federer – and it’s where he has lifted the trophy twice from seven final reached.
A total of 51 of his 69 career titles have come on hard courts, and his winning percentage on the surface (84%) is his best compared to clay or grass.
After claiming a fourth Wimbledon crown, Djokovic was already looking ahead to the US Open when addressing the gathered media at the All England Club, although he is keeping his expectations in check.
“I understand that people are questioning whether I can consistently play on this level. Trust me, I am, too,” Djokovic said with a smile.
“At the same time I can’t look too far on the road because I have to embrace and cherish this kind of accomplishment. If you asked me a month and a half ago whether I think I can win Wimbledon, part of me yes, I hope, but maybe I wasn’t that sure at that time of my level of tennis.
“This is obviously very pleasing and satisfying to be able to play the way I played in the last couple of tournaments, in Queens and Wimbledon. This is going to be a huge confidence boost and springboard for whatever is coming up.
“I really can’t see the future. I don’t know what’s going to happen. But I like to play on hard courts. US Open was always a successful tournament for me. I haven’t played it last year because of injuries. I’m looking forward to also go out there and play my best and see where it takes me.”
Vajda is also cautious when discussing Djokovic’s New York aspirations but the Slovakian coach is pleased with the progress his pupil has made, especially in the mental department.
“Definitely he’s more relaxed. But he’s also starting to enjoy it and that’s the most important moment. Once you start enjoying it, and he lost already the doubts and fears and whatever, he’s able to enjoy, and his best season can start. He just has to plan better, he has his family and everything but I think he will do good now,” predicts Vajda.
With Rafael Nadal and Federer firmly positioned at the top of the rankings, and Djokovic back at No. 10 with plenty of opportunities to go higher now that he has no points to defend until the end of the year, it’s possible that the trio can finish the season as the top-three in the standings.
Djokovic’s resurrection during the grass season means the fight for the US Open trophy will be all the more exciting.
“It’s amazing that those three guys got back like this,” said Vajda. “Three guys are holding 50 out of 60 Grand Slams, holding the trophies already for 15 years, this is amazing.
“Obviously I wish the next generation as well [to step up] so tennis can be more interesting. I can’t tell you what’s going to happen at the US Open. These guys can have an off and an on every day now, they’re 36, 32, 31… I’m not predicting anything, but I think with the confidence now that the top guys have, probably we can face them very late in the draw, in the semis or final.”