x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Novak Djokovic aims to carry host Serbia past Czech Republic in Davis Cup final

Novak Djokovic has set his sights on following his successful defence of the ATP World Tour Finals by leading Serbia to victory in the Davis Cup final.

After winning the ATP Tour Finals singles title this past weekend, Novak Djokovic looks to extend the happy days by leading host Serbia against Tomas Berdych and the Czech Republic in the Davis Cup final this weekend. Kirsty Wigglesworth / AP Photo
After winning the ATP Tour Finals singles title this past weekend, Novak Djokovic looks to extend the happy days by leading host Serbia against Tomas Berdych and the Czech Republic in the Davis Cup final this weekend. Kirsty Wigglesworth / AP Photo

Novak Djokovic has set his sights on following his successful defence of the ATP World Tour Finals by leading Serbia to victory in the Davis Cup final.

Djokovic won the season-ending Tour Finals for the third time with a dominant 6-3, 6-4 victory over the world No 1 Rafael Nadal at the O2 Arena in London.

The Serb, 26, has played some of his best tennis since losing the US Open final against Nadal in September. His triumph on Monday was his 22nd successive match victory – a run that brought him titles in Beijing, Shanghai, Paris and now London.

Djokovic could be forgiven for taking a well-earned holiday after such an intense period, but the world No 2 instead flew home to Belgrade to prepare for the Davis Cup final clash against the holders, Czech Republic, which starts on Friday.

Serbia last won the Davis Cup in 2010 and Djokovic would love to repeat that triumph.

“It’s a fact that it’s been a very long season for me and I’m exhausted in every way. But God knows if we’re going to have as a country another opportunity like this to win a Davis Cup title at home,” Djokovic said.

“We have very tough opponents, the defending champions, but the Davis Cup is the only team competition in our sport that brings the best possible energy and willpower in me. I’m going to do my best to recover the next three days and get ready for that one.”

Once Djokovic has finished with his national service, he will finally relax and reflect on a year that brought him joy and despair in almost equal measure.

After winning the Australian Open for the fourth time, in January, he suffered a frustrating semi-final loss to Nadal at the French Open – the one grand slam title he has never won.

That was followed by a Wimbledon final defeat against Andy Murray and another painful loss at Nadal’s hands in the US Open that eventually led to the Spaniard replacing Djokovic at the top of the world rankings.

To a less mentally tough character, those setbacks could have been devastating, but for Djokovic they have provided the motivation for his late-season resurgence.

“Next to the run that I had in 2011,” he said, referring to a 43-match unbeaten streak, “this is definitely the second best I’ve had. For me, the most positive thing is the fact that I managed to regroup after a few big losses to Nadal, especially at Roland Garros and the US Open final.

“After that, I needed to take things slowly and analyse what I did wrong in the matches against him, to understand what I need to do in order to win against him. I’ve worked harder and become an even more skilful player. I’ve worked on a few things in my game and serve. I think the results are showing that we had a great improvement in the last two and a half months.”

Nadal will finish the year as the world No 1, but Djokovic has won their past two encounters and he is confident of recapturing his position as the sport’s preeminent force in 2014.

“The year-end No 1 is deservedly in Nadal’s hands because he had two grand slam wins, the best season out of all players, the most titles,” Djokovic said. “Even though I had an incredible two and a half months since the US Open final, he was the most successful player.

“The only thing I’m not as satisfied about is the fact that I lost the three big matches in the three grand slams.

“This can serve as a great platform for the 2014 season. I’m extra motivated and inspired to work on my game and get ready for the Australian Open.” he said.

His next competition: the Mubadala World Tennis Championship, in Abu Dhabi, December 26 to 28.

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