World number one Novak Djokovic has described his relationship with Rod Laver Arena and the Australian Open as ‘a love affair.’
No man has won more Australian Open singles titles than Djokovic, and he will be chasing his ninth when the action gets underway next week.
That has naturally created a special connection between Australia and the world number one, and it’s one he very much reciprocates.
“Well, it’s a love affair,” Djokovic told reporters about his feelings towards Rod Laver Arena.
“I’ve been feeling more comfortable on the court each year that I’ve been coming back.
“I mean, the more you win, obviously the more confidence you have and the more pleasant you feel on the court. It just feels right.
“When I stepped on the court this year for the first time in the practice session, I relived some of the memories from last year, also the other years that I won the tournament.”
“It just gives me great sensation, great feeling, confidence. Hopefully can be another successful year.”
Despite his unprecedented success at the Australian Open, though, does he still feel nervous before matches there?
“Every match, every match. Every single match,” he insists.
“I don’t want to speak on behalf of the other athletes, but I just feel like it’s almost impossible to eliminate that kind of pressure, anticipation, the nerves coming into any match really for an athlete.
“It’s just that I managed over the years to train myself.
“I think with the experience and with also the dedication that I had off the court to the mental preparation, that helped me react better to those kind of emotions.
“But it’s still there. I don’t think it’s ever going to go away. I mean, especially when the occasion is big, when you’re playing for the biggest trophies.”
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