LONDON: Novak Djokovic has set his sights on finally ending his long wait to be crowned French Open champion next year and complete a career Grand Slam.
Djokovic brought the curtain down on his 2014 campaign in unexpected fashion by playing a hastily-arranged exhibition match against Andy Murray at London’s O2 Arena after Roger Federer pulled out of their scheduled ATP Tour Final just before the match was due to start on Sunday.
Federer’s shock withdrawal meant Djokovic was crowned Tour Finals champion for the third successive year, ending a triumphant year that included his second Wimbledon title and the year-end world number one ranking for the third time in four years.
But it was hardly a day to remember for the 27-year-old, who admitted to feeling awkward when he was presented with the trophy in front of a 17,500-capacity crowd who had just seen their hopes of a fascinating duel between the world’s top two unexpectedly dashed.
Instead of dwelling on one of the stranger days of his career, Djokovic was quick to turn his thoughts to 2015, when he hopes to at last end nine-time champion Rafael Nadal’s reign as the king of Paris clay.
Rafael Nadal during his match against Borna Coric at the Swiss Indoors ATP 500 on October 24, 2014 in Basel
AFP/File – Fabrice Coffrini
The French Open is the only major title missing from Djokovic’s Grand Slam collection having lost the 2012 and 2014 finals to Nadal.
“Roland Garros is and was and still will be one of the biggest goals that I have. I’ll keep on trying, of course,” said Djokovic, who has four Australian Open crowns, two at Wimbledon and a single US Open triumph.
“Any Grand Slam win is another page in the history books of this sport.
“Right now I’m at my pinnacle. I feel physically very fit. I’m very motivated to keep on playing on a very high level.
“So as long as it’s like that, I’m going to try to use these years in front of me to fight for No. 1 of the world and to fight for the biggest titles in the sport.”
Before Djokovic turns his attention to the first major of 2015 — the Australian Open in January — he will gladly resume his new role as a father to baby Stefan, who was born only a few weeks ago.
Djokovic is relishing the chance to help wife Jelena with baby duties for a while, even if the sleepless nights so familiar to new parents are less welcome.
“I’m very hands-on. My wife told me what’s expected of me!” Djokovic said.
“I’ve seen it before I came to Paris and London. I’m glad during the stay in London for these 10 days I got a lot of sleep. That will not be the case from now.
“I’m looking forward to it. It’s the most beautiful feeling that I experience and my wife have experience as well holding a baby in your arms.
“That will be a lot of that without the racquet in next couple weeks for me.”