Djokovic can't wait to re­light the ‘fire’

The Freeman - - SPORTS -

MEL­BOURNE — Sixtime Aus­tralian Open cham­pion No­vak Djokovic says he's ex­cited to be back af­ter a long in­jury-en­forced break, ad­mit­ting he has missed the "fire and pas­sion" of com­pet­i­tive ten­nis.

The Ser­bian for­mer world num­ber one has been out of ac­tion for six months, and while he en­joyed hav­ing his first real break since turn­ing pro­fes­sional, he is ready to get back to busi­ness.

"I'm just glad to be back play­ing ten­nis, hav­ing an op­por­tu­nity to com­pete yet again in the big tour­na­ments. I've missed it," he said Satur­day at Mel­bourne Park.

Djokovic has been side­lined with an el­bow in­jury that had been pro­gres­sively get­ting worse over the past few years.

He said it got to the point where the pain on his serve was be­com­ing un­bear­able, with a sus­tained pe­riod of rest the only cure.

"It hasn't been 100 per­cent yet healed. But right now it's at the level where I can com­pete, and ev­ery day is get­ting bet­ter," he said.

"Through­out the tour­na­ment, I don't know how it's go­ing to be­have. Even if it's 100 per­cent healed, af­ter six months of no com­pe­ti­tion, you never know how you're go­ing to re­act."

But de­spite slip­ping down the rank­ings and only seeded 14 at the open­ing Grand Slam of the year, his con­fi­dence is high and he warned he could still go far.

"I still know what I'm ca­pa­ble of, and I be­lieve in my own abil­i­ties to win against the best play­ers in the world," he said ahead of his open­ing round clash against Amer­i­can Don­ald Young.

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