World number two Novak Djokovic returns to Doha as the defending champion, yet this year, the Serbian will not be seeded number one.
After taking the titles at the 2016 Australian Open and the 2016 French Open, Djokovic’s 2016 season took somewhat of a dive, culminating in the 12-time Grand Slam champion ceding the world number one ranking to Andy Murray.
Despite many describing Djokovic’s season somewhat of a failure, the world number two still finished with an overwhelming 65-9 record, and he also finally achieved the Career Grand Slam by defeating Murray in Paris.
Many wondered if injuries plagued the Serbian number one, yet Djokovic kept a tight-lock on any information. After parting ways with coach Boris Becker after the season, Djokovic enters the 2017 season seeking to regain the top ranking on the ATP World Tour.
He kicks-off that effort in Doha at the 2017 Qatar ExxonMobil Open. He is seeded second behind Murray. As the top two seeds, the pair could meet in the finals.
Djokovic feeling recharged after offseason
Djokovic’s 2016 campaign ended in in the O2 Arena in London at the ATP World Tour Finals. In a winner-gains-the-number-one-ranking final, Murray got the best of Djokovic again to claim the top spot, ending as year-end number one for the first time in his career.
Despite the loss and dismissal of his coach, Djokovic told reporters in Doha that he feels “refreshed” and ready to go.
“We had now five, six weeks of off-season,” Djokovic said. “Not entirely rest, because in the five, six weeks you have to put in the rest together with preparations. I did take some time off with family. I didn’t travel much. I wanted to stay home and stay in one place where I can recharge my batteries. I just feel that I went to my home base.”
“With the lifestyle of a tennis player and all the traveling, sometimes you lose coordinates,” the Serbian number one added. “You are all over the place. So, it’s great to actually be in one place for certain amount of weeks. That allows you to unpack your things and mentally just relax and stay put. From that perspective, you’re able to observe things much differently.”
“This off-season allowed me to really look back at what I’ve been through in my entire career, but especially in the last 12, 15 months, and to think about what is the next step and how I want to keep going.”
Djokovic aiming for second title in Doha
The world number two will kick-off his 2017 campaign in Doha this week for the third year in a row.
“Now it’s the third year in a row I’m in Doha, and I’m really pleased to start off the year in this tournament,” Djokovic said. “It is traditionally voted the best in its category. And deservedly so, because they have been really trying to make sure that every player is feeling at home.
“You can see every single year you get at least couple top players from top five of the world,” the world number two continued. “You have at least four, five players from the top ten.”
“That says enough about what I personally, and we all players, feel about this tournament.”