Novak Djokovic thinks ATP Cup will help his bid for Australian Open history

Novak Djokovic (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)
Novak Djokovic (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images) /

Novak Djokovic believes the ATP Cup will serve as ideal preparation in his bid to make Australian Open history, while Rafael Nadal is as motivated as ever.

With the ATP Cup fast approaching, Novak Djokovic thinks the new competition can only help his bid to enhance his Australian Open legacy later this month.

Djokovic will lead Serbia in Group A of the team event as they face France, South Africa and Chile, with the round-robin matches to take place in Brisbane.

The competition, which starts on January 3, will finish just eight days before the start of the first Grand Slam of the year, the Australian Open.

Between the two events, Djokovic is also scheduled to play the Adelaide International after taking the positives from his recent third-place finish in the Mubadala World Tennis Championship.

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This month will see Djokovic hope to make further history in Melbourne, where he is already a record seven-time winner of the first Grand Slam in the tennis calendar.

He won two Slams in 2019 and will go in as favorite to add to his total of 16 once the action gets under way from January 20.

Before that though, he is aiming for team success. Serbia reached the quarterfinals of the Davis Cup in November, but this time he has his top available teammate in Dusan Lajovic with him too.

Djokovic spoke about his “love affair” with Australia this week because of his past successes and spent part of Wednesday visiting Koalas with his Serbia teammates at the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary in Brisbane.

Novak Djokovic
Novak Djokovic (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images) /

Novak Djokovic gave a ringing endorsement of the new ATP Cup and explained why he thinks it will boost his hopes of winning Australian Open number eight in the weeks ahead.

"“I think so,” Novak Djokovic said to AAP when asked if it would help his chances.“I haven’t been playing any Aussie tournament in the opening week of the season for a while.“I have been playing mostly in Qatar. I think [starting the year in Brisbane] can help [my Australian Open chances]. I am here earlier than most years. I get acclimatised.“I love being here, it feeds me with positive energy. I am still getting acclimatised. Back in Europe where I reside it is not as warm, it takes a bit of time, so that is why I came here earlier.”"

World number two Djokovic feels the ATP Cup is refreshing because it offers players something different.

He added: “The concept of ATP Cup does give us an opportunity to represent your country and be part of a team, which is not something we experience during the year very often.

“It does feed you with energy and motivation. It’s a lot of intensity on the court but also a lot of fun and relaxation off it.”

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Davis Cup winners Spain go in as favorites due to the presence of in-form Rafael Nadal, who won all eight of his singles and doubles rubbers in Madrid, along with another top-10 star in the shape of Roberto Bautista Agut.

In slight contrast to Djokovic, Spain’s Nadal insisted the ATP Cup was not being viewed as part of his Australian Open preparation and explained his motivation to lead Spain to further glory.

The 33-year-old, the only man ahead of Novak Djokovic in the ATP rankings, feels there is plenty of time to prepare for the first major of the year after the team competition has finished and does not want to be distracted.

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Ahead of the tournament, Russia captain Marat Safin discussed how he fancies his team’s chances given he has Daniil Medvedev and Karen Khachanov to call upon.

Former world number one and two-time major winner Safin heaped praise on the Big Three of Djokovic, Nadal and Roger Federer, who is not playing the ATP Cup.

But he added his wish for the new season is that they are dethroned in 2020, with his player Medvedev one of the top candidates to stop the trio’s streak of winning every Grand Slam for three consecutive years, a run Nadal expects to end soon.

“This group of three, Roger, Rafa, and Djokovic, is something unique in tennis that has never happened,” said Safin.

“They are incredible, especially Roger. I wish them to play a little bit longer, but I also wish to the young ones to retire them earlier.

“These two players [Medvedev and Khachanov] are in great shape so I think we have a chance to win.”

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Russia are one of the nations facing the U.S. team, with Italy and Norway the other members of Group D, but the presence of Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal means Serbia and Spain will take centre stage at the ATP Cup.