Djokovic has soft spot for Aussie Open

The Citizen (KZN) - - SPORT - Mel­bourne

– World No 1 No­vak Djokovic (left) re­vealed his fond­ness for the Aus­tralian Open yes­ter­day, say­ing the tour­na­ment kick-started his sto­ried ca­reer when he won his first Slam in Mel­bourne more than a decade ago.

Per­haps prompted by Andy Mur­ray’s shock an­nounce­ment that this year’s ap­pear­ance will be his last, Djokovic al­lowed him­self to wax nostal­gic about the sea­son-open­ing Grand Slam.

His break­through came against France’s Jo-Wil­fried Tsonga in 2008 and he has won five more times since, most re­cently against Mur­ray in 2016.

“It was my first ma­jor tro­phy, that ob­vi­ously served as a great spring­board for my ca­reer,” said the Serb, who has 14 Slams in the tro­phy cab­i­net.

“It opened a lot of doors for me. It al­lowed me to be­lieve in my­self that I can ac­tu­ally win the big­gest tour­na­ments in the world, chal­lenge the best play­ers in the world.”

Top seed Djokovic, who launches his cam­paign for a record sev­enth crown against Amer­i­can Mitchell Krueger to­mor­row, also en­joyed strong sup­port from Mel­bourne’s large Serb com­mu­nity.

But the 31-year-old said all fans in Aus­tralia cre­ated a spe­cial at­mos­phere.

“They call it the Happy Slam for a rea­son,” he said. “There’s a lot of good vibe, good buzz around the city.” – AFP

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