Novak Djokovic opened his 2013 US Open with a 61, 62, 62 demolition of Ricardas Berankis last night. The World No. 1 has been to the finals in New York the last three years walking away with the 2011 title. But this season with a Masters hardcourt title and the rise of Rafael Nadal, there are some question marks on the Serb.
Djokovic, though, says being back in New York will get his game right again.
“It encourages me the fact that I’ve done so well in the last five, six years in US Open,” Djokovic said last night. “Probably next to Australian Open, my most successful Grand Slam.
“These are the most important tournaments we have in the sport and this is where you want to win trophies. All the attention of the sport goes directly to these tournaments. This is the last Grand Slam of the year. I have high expectations for myself. There is no difference in my approach this year than last few years. Knowing that I’ve done so well in past years, had such a good record, gives me enough reason to have this confident and optimistic approach.”
Djokovic also revealed a new addition to his coaching entourage, Polish great and one-time Ivan Lendl coach Wojtek Fibak, who will join Marian Vajda and Dusan Vemic.
“He joined the team this year for US Open,” Djokovic said of the 60-year-old. “It’s kind of a trial in this tournament to see how it goes, how he’s going to fit in the team.
He has an important role in the team. He’s consulting myself. My tennis coach has a very good relationship with me. We know each other for many years. He lives in the same place where I live. He’s been a very good player. Top 10. He had a great doubles, singles career. Coached Lendl for many years. He’s somebody that has huge experience in this sport. He knows a lot of people. He shares a big love and passion for this sport.
“Wojtek Fibak was the right person for us at that moment. We will see how it will go during these two weeks.”
Might Djokovic have added Fibak as a counter to rival Andy Murray acquiring Lendl?
In this New York Times story, Fibak spoke of he created Lendl’s gameface, something that’s maybe missing from Novak’s joyful, entertaining on-court demeanor.
“I wanted him to become a machine, to hide his feelings, to wear an unemotional mask on his face, not to react to anything,” Fibak said. And it was through Fibak that Lendl met a student at the Spence School named Samantha Frankel, who would go on to become his wife. Seeing as Fibak hosted their courtship at his Greenwich home, the urbane Pole may be as responsible for Lendl’s warm gummy smile as his better-known scowl.
Djokovic is back on court Friday against Benjamin Becker.
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