Australian Open king Novak Djokovic focuses on Davis Cup, French Open
Djokovic jets off to prepare for Davis Cup and French Open challenges after securing record-breaking third consecutive Australian Open title
In years past, Novak Djokovic marked his victories at the Australian Open with rowdy late-night celebrations, followed by bleary-eyed photo shoots the next morning. This year's win made history but inspired a more sober reaction.
After beating Andy Murray to become the only man to win three consecutive Australian Open titles, the No1-ranked player immediately took a flight so he can start getting in shape for his next challenge: the clay courts of Europe.
Djokovic has the Davis Cup this weekend, and a few months away is the French Open - the one major that has eluded him. He now has six grand-slam trophies, four from the Australian Open and one each from Wimbledon and the US Open in 2011.
He came close last year at Roland Garros, but lost in the final to clay master Rafael Nadal. "Of course, I want to go all the way in the French Open," Djokovic said.
His goal for the year is a big one, he said, when asked if he would choose a Roland Garros title over his No1-ranking.
"I'll take everything," the 25-year-old said. "I have no reason not to be confident in myself."
Djokovic never lacked self-confidence, and his dominating performance at the Australian Open showed why. The elite group he heads includes No2 Roger Federer, No3 Murray and Nadal, whose creaky knees caused him to sit out this tournament and yield his No4 ranking to David Ferrer. Djokovic beat Ferrer in an 89-minute semi-final that he said he played "perfectly".
The 17-time grand-slam winner Federer, Nadal, Djokovic and Murray have combined to win 33 of the past 34 majors.
"I have a great feeling about myself on the court at this moment," Djokovic said after beating Ferrer in Melbourne.
His 6-7 (2-7), 7-6 (7-3), 6-3, 6-2 victory over Murray on Sunday night showed his mental toughness and supreme fitness in a match that contained riveting rallies between two of the best returners in the game.
Djokovic's win deprived Murray of his chance to capitalise on his breakthrough year in 2012, when he won an Olympic gold medal and his first major title, at the US Open.
"I'm full of joy right now," the Serbian ace said. "It's going to give me a lot of confidence for the rest of the season, that's for sure."
The season resumes this weekend with Serbia's Davis Cup tie against Belgium, which was why Djokovic flew home early so he could celebrate with the people closest to him.
"In life, you don't get many opportunities to win grand slams. As a tennis player, that's a pinnacle of the ambitions and of the success," he said. "So I [will] try to enjoy it for a few days with the people I love the most - family, friends and team."
"The main reason [for leaving early] is because I want to get to Europe as quick as possible so I can be ready for the Davis Cup tie," added Djokovic, who led Serbia to their first and only Davis Cup title in 2010. "I hope I find your understanding for that."
After he wrapped up his media obligations, he went online to thank his fans.
"My dear friends," he wrote in a personal blog post that he also tweeted. "[I'm] laying in bed now and thinking 'Novak, you are 4 times AO champion.' That's quite something, right? I will have to repeat it in my mind for a while to sink in.
"Plenty of things ahead of us, starting from tomorrow morning … Stay tuned," he added.