Novak Djokovic says wrist is OK, plans to begin 2024 with Australian Open title

Sports activities Information

“My favourite place, little question.”

Serbia’s Novak Djokovic speaks at a press convention in Melbourne forward of the Australian Open. Lillian Suwanrumpha/AFP by way of Getty Photographs

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — The damage replace from Novak Djokovic was all good on the eve of his Australian Open title protection.

Djokovic damage his wrist enjoying for Serbia within the United Cup final week, and wanted remedy twice throughout a quarterfinal loss to Australia’s Alex de Minaur.

“My wrist is sweet. I had time from the final match towards de Minaur to my first match right here to get well,” he mentioned. “I’ve been coaching effectively. Apply periods pain-free to this point. It’s good. It’s all trying good.”

Djokovic has made it a behavior to begin the 12 months with a title in Australia. He’s on a 28-match successful streak at Melbourne Park, the place he has received an unprecedented 10 males’s singles crowns. It’s a serious contributor to his file 24 Grand Slam titles.

And so he feels proper at dwelling. He hosted “A Night time with Novak and Pals” that drew virtually a capability crowd to Rod Laver Area, the place he received the leap on organizers by saying he’d be enjoying the night time match on Sunday — Day 1 of the first-ever 15-day Australian Open.

Each singles champions will play within the first of the night time periods: Djokovic’s opener towards qualifier Dino Prizmic will by adopted by Aryna Sabalenka’s first-round match towards Ella Seidel.

Fourth-seeded Jannik Sinner, who beat Djokovic twice in a month late final 12 months, together with in Italy’s run to the Davis Cup title, will open play on the primary present courtroom towards Botic van de Zandschulp. That match will probably be adopted by No. 8 Maria Sakkari’s girls’s first spherical towards Nao Hibino. Caroline Wozniacki, the 2018 champion who’s returning to Melbourne Park for the primary time as a mom, will open the night time session on Margaret Courtroom Area.

The primary spherical will probably be staged over three days, with organizers hoping to chop again on the late finishes throughout the match.

Djokovic received 27 of his 28 matches in Grand Slams final 12 months, dropping solely the Wimbledon ultimate to Carlos Alcaraz. He’s decided to go one higher than that in 2024, and would really like an Olympic gold medal in Paris to go along with it.

Requested Saturday if the so-called Golden Slam — all 4 majors plus Olympic gold — was in his reckoning for this season, Djokovic mentioned it’s no secret that he desires to win each main he contests.

“It’s no totally different this 12 months,” he mentioned. “I’m simply hoping I can begin the season in a method that I’ve been beginning my seasons, most of my seasons, all through my profession: with a win right here in Australia, in Melbourne. My favourite place, little question.”

Djokovic has received 4 of the final 5 Australian titles — the one one he missed was the one he wasn’t allowed to contest. He was deported from Australia on the eve of the 2022 match as a result of he wasn’t vaccinated for COVID-19.

That’s why he considers his victory final 12 months, capped with a straight-sets win over Stefanos Tsitsipas, his greatest.

“I hope that, yeah, I’m going to have the ability to, if not play on the degree that I did final 12 months, then be very near that,” Djokovic mentioned, “as a result of that was top-of-the-line tennis ranges that I’ve performed, ever performed.”

Alcaraz is seeded No. 2 in Australia, and so can solely face Djokovic right here in the event that they each make the ultimate. The possibility to beat Djokovic on Rod Laver Area is one the 20-year-old Spaniard would savor.

“It’s an additional motivation for me. I’m an bold man. I at all times wish to play towards the perfect gamers on the earth to see what’s my degree,” he mentioned. “Clearly it’s a great take a look at, enjoying towards him within the locations that he’s virtually unbeaten.

“Yeah, understanding these stats, it’s an additional motivation, for certain.”

Alcaraz missed the Australian Open final 12 months after which misplaced to Djokovic within the French Open semifinals earlier than his victory at Wimbledon gave him a second profession main.

Djokovic had received the title the 4 earlier Wimbledon campaigns he’d entered.

The 36-year-old Serbian star is staying effectively grounded within the routines which have delivered unprecedented outcomes at Melbourne Park.

That, he mentioned, would come with visits to the Botanical Gardens on the alternative financial institution of the Yarra River to Melbourne Park.

“I’m not superstitious. I do clearly like to go to sure locations which have introduced me luck and make me really feel good,” he mentioned. “For instance, the botanical gardens, it’s an exquisite park the place I prefer to spend time and simply be on my own in nature, simply grounding, hugging bushes, climbing bushes and stuff. I really like to try this.”

He received his first Grand Slam title in Australia in 2008, and the back-to-nature idea has been a theme right here ever since.

“So I’ve finished that for, yeah, final 15 years,” he mentioned. “Whether or not that’s secret of success right here in Australia or not, I don’t know, nevertheless it has positively made me really feel good.”