Novak Djokovic has revealed some bizarre Melbourne habits as he chases record-breaking Australian Open title

Novak Djokovic’s hunger for grand slam titles remains unsated with the Serbian champion vowing to continue his record-breaking streak at the Australian Open over the next fortnight.

The 36-year-old, who declared he was feeling no pain in the wrist that caused him some issues during the United Cup in Perth, returns to Melbourne after a phenomenal 2023.

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Djokovic is already the most successful man in history and will surpass Margaret Court’s record of 24 grand slam singles titles if he continues his winning streak at Melbourne Park.

“It’s no secret that I verbalise my goals and I say clearly that I want to win every grand slam that I participate and play in. It is no different this year,” he said.

“I’m just hoping I can start the season in a way that I have been starting my seasons, most of my seasons, throughout my career: with a win here in Australia, in Melbourne.

“(It is) my favourite place, no doubt. (It is) the court where I’ve done great things and achieved my greatest grand slam results.”

The secret of his success, he said, is partly due to his determination to be as grounded as he can be.

A nature lover, Djokovic will pursue his regular hobbies while in Melbourne.

“I do, obviously, like to visit certain places that have brought me luck and make me feel good,” he said.

“For example, the Botanical Gardens are just nearby. It’s a wonderful park where I like to spend time and just be by myself in nature, just grounding, hugging trees, climbing trees and stuff. I love to do that. I’ve done that for (the) last 15 years.

“Whether that’s the secret of success here in Australia or not, I don’t know, but it has definitely made me feel good. I like to obviously have a walk by the beach or jog if I can do that.

“Obviously during the grand slams you have lots of challenges, mental, physical, emotional. There’s a lot of activities happening, even on the days when you don’t have matches. It’s good to have places where you can just rewind, relax, rejuvenate and kind of gather all the necessary energy for the next day.”

The 24-time major winner is coming off one of his strongest seasons after adding major titles in Paris and New York to his Melbourne triumph, along with another ATP Tour Finals victory.

World No. 2 Carlos Alcaraz denied Djokovic the chance to complete a calendar grand slam for the first time when defeating him in an epic at Wimbledon last July.

His rivals remain astounded at his ability to compete at such a consistently high level into his mid-30s.

Alex de Minaur, who was thrashed by Djokovic in the fourth round last year before defeating him for the first time during the United Cup, said the desire of the champion is incredible.

“Honestly, it is a lot to admire, his tenacity and motivation within himself to keep on winning,” de Minaur says in an episode of Fox Cricket host Mark Howard’s podcast The Howie Games to be released next Thursday.

“It is pretty astounding. It is not only the physical shape that he is in. He is tallying up the years, but he is still moving around like he is in his prime. He just makes life quite difficult out there because he is one of those guys who wants to win every single point.

“Ultimately, to really hurt him, you have to have some serious firepower, because he is a wall.

“He is as solid as they come. Obviously he moves great. His defence is amazing. What he has started to do in recent years is play more aggressively as well, so he has found a great balance together.”

Alcaraz, the US Open winner in 2021 and reigning Wimbledon champion, said Djokovic’s career statistics are a motivating force for him.

“It’s an extra motivation for me. I’m an ambitious guy. I always want to play against the best players in the world to see what my level (is),” Alcaraz said.

“Obviously it’s a good test, playing against him in the places or in the tournament where he’s almost unbeaten. I (am) looking to reach the final and hopefully play a final against him.

“It would be great obviously. But … knowing those stats, it’s an extra motivation, for sure.”

Djokovic finished his year later than usual when edged by Italian star Jannik Sinner in the semi-finals of the Davis Cup in Spain in late November.

Despite the hiccup in Perth during the United Cup, he is confident of performing well in Melbourne.

“I hope that … I’m going to be able to, if not play at the level that I did last year, then be very close to that, because that was one of the best tennis levels that I’ve played, ever played, here in Australia last year,” he said.

Originally published as Novak Djokovic discusses strange Melbourne habits for Australian Open

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