For world number one Novak Djokovic, the 2016 US Open presented a chance to get back on track and potentially even win another Major. The trip so far, however, hasn’t exactly gone according to plan. After dropping a set to Jerzy Janowicz in the first round, it appeared Djokovic needed some more court time to get back into form. Djovokicc has gotten the exact opposite.
The second round came and went in a walkover after Jiri Vesely withdrew because of left forearm inflammation. As for the third round, the story wasn’t much different; the Serb looked visibly better since his first round match and even lead Mikhail Youzhny 4-2, but a leg injury forced the Russian to retire.
Djokovic looks for positives in unfamiliar situation
Despite questions surrounding his rehab from a shoulder injury, Djokovic says his arm is improving. The top seed was asked about his ability to practice normally in his post-match press conference.
“The arm is doing very well,” Djokovic assured. “Everything is going in the right direction. I feel significantly better now than I have just at the beginning of the tournament.”
“I'm looking forward to compete.”
Djokovic, prior to some on-court practice, added “It's difficult to pick the words now. I don't think I ever had this kind of situation in my career, where I had a second-round walkover and the third round 30 minutes only.”
“I'll try to get the positives out of these six games. Obviously I did start very well with a good intensity and I'll try to carry that into the next match,” he continued.
In the aforementioned post-match interview, Djokovic was asked whether rehab time or matches were more important. The 29-year-old responded, “Depends at how you look at it. Considering the stage of the season, you know, the amount of matches I've played, what I've been through with my body, I think it's actually good to have some days off and then shorter matches from one side.”
“From the other side, sure, as you are approaching second week of the Grand Slam you want to have match play and you want to have time spent on the center court before you face one of the top players.”
“But, again, I'm not too concerned about my game itself. I've worked hard last couple days. Health-wise I feel much better than I did at the beginning of the tournament. You know, I'm confident that everything is going in the right direction.”
Djokovic no longer worrying about whether or not he’s the perceived favorite
A combination of Djokovic’s shoulder injury and Andy Murray playing some of the best tennis of the career has lead a lot of people to believe that Murray--the world number two--is the player to beat. Some betting sites even have the Brit as the odds-on favorite. Djokovic, on the other hand, isn’t listening.
“I don't pay too much attention on that,” the Serb proclaimed. “There were stages in my career where I was very much into it, following who says what. That affected my mind.”
“Not anymore. You evolve. You rely on yourself. In the end of the day, I know what are my capabilities and I know what I am able to do, what I'm able to achieve. If I play the right tennis, I can win against anybody in any surface.”
However, Djokovic also admitted that he does check up on other players when he isn’t playing. “You are following what your main competitors especially are doing, how they're playing,” the top seed confessed. “Of course, everybody does that. But my main focus, of course, is on me only and my next opponent.”