Australian Open: Novak Djokovic’s ominous warning to rivals

Novak Djokovic felt the love from everyone he encountered in Adelaide, even the kangaroos, and heads to the Australian Open with “no grudges” and confident there will be no hangover from his deportation drama last year.

After triumphing at the Adelaide International on Sunday, Djokovic couldn’t lock in the forecast practice sessions with Nick Kyrgios at Melbourne Park, declaring he only needs “finetuning” ahead of his tilt at a 10th Aussie Open.

The former world No.1, who was booted out of Melbourne last January because of his vaccination status, said he was feeling as happy mentally as he was physically, with his win in Adelaide putting his competitors on notice.

“Five great matches. I couldn’t ask for a better preparation and lead-up to Australian Open,” Djokovic said.

“I love playing in Australia. I mean, my results are a testament to that. I wouldn’t be able to play so well in a place where I don‘t feel well.

“I have a week off for recovery now and working on specific things in terms of my game, my body, getting my mind in the right state for the best-of-five and two long weeks hopefully.”

“I’m pleased with the way I am playing, way I’m feeling. Now it‘s really finetuning, just adapting to the conditions. They‘re slightly different in Melbourne. Just taking it easy because I’ve had a lot of intensity this week.”

More ominously, Djokovic declared the form he showed in Adelaide, even recovering from losing the first set in the final, was a display of what he was capable of in Melbourne.

“Statistically, I’ve been lucky to win more of these kind of matches. Of course, the more you win these particular matches, the better you feel. I think it gets to the head of your opponents more as well,” he said.

“That‘s what I want. I want them to know that regardless of the scoreline, I’m always there, I’m always fighting till the last shot, and I’m able to turn things around.

“Of course, going onto the court with anybody knowing that they know as well what I‘m capable of is, of course, advantage.”

Djokovic was confident spectators in Melbourne would embrace him as they did in Adelaide, where he enjoyed significant interactions beyond the court, despite the acrimony over still refusing to be vaccinated against Covid-19.

“I don’t hold any grudges. I told you I had far many more positive experiences in Australia to throw that away just because of what happened last year,” he said.

“I feel very comfortable with people, normal people, that follow sport, that I encounter on an everyday basis. I haven’t had any negative experience so far. So every person that I met, whether it’s in the city or in the woods, I actually met few kangaroos as well, had a chat with them, everyone was very kind, very supportive.

“So there is no reason for me to feel differently than what I‘m receiving from them.”

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