Djokovic targets perfection

Novak Djokovic lifting the ATP Tour Finals trophy in London, following his 6-3, 6-4 victory over Roger Federer. It was the Serb's 11th title of 2015 and he said: "I'm just blessed and overwhelmed with the emotion and the thrill to be achieving such a
Novak Djokovic lifting the ATP Tour Finals trophy in London, following his 6-3, 6-4 victory over Roger Federer. It was the Serb's 11th title of 2015 and he said: "I'm just blessed and overwhelmed with the emotion and the thrill to be achieving such a great season."PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

Olympics and French Open in his sights, as Federer warns on the weight of expectation

LONDON • Novak Djokovic has set his sights on surpassing his almost perfect year by winning the only two most significant titles to have eluded him - the French Open and the Olympics.

But the world's top tennis player has been warned by Roger Federer that he will find it hard to repeat his incredible 2015 campaign.

The Swiss was Djokovic's last victim of the year as the Serb romped to a 6-3, 6-4 victory in the final of the ATP Tour Finals on Sunday.

  • A YEAR TO REMEMBER

  • 82

    Matches won by Novak Djokovic this year

    6

    Matches lost

    11

    Titles won

    3

    Grand Slam titles won - the Australian Open, US Open and Wimbledon, lost in the final of the French Open

    18.73

    Winnings in millions of US dollars

    1

    Tournaments in which he failed to reach the final

It was the 28-year-old's 11th title of a golden year that saw the world No. 1 win 82 of his 88 matches, reach a record 15 consecutive finals, lift the Wimbledon, Australian and US Open trophies, earn six Masters 1000 titles and collect more than US$18 million (S$25.4 million) in prize money.

And Djokovic, who is far too competitive to rest on his laurels, is already setting goals to keep himself motivated next year.

His primary aim is to finally end his wait to win the French Open, which remains the one Grand Slam crown to elude him after he suffered a defeat at the hands of Stan Wawrinka earlier this year.

And his secondary mission comes in Rio, when he will go in search of a first Olympics singles gold after winning bronze in Beijing in 2008.

"Roland Garros is always one of the biggest challenges I have every year, but it's not the only one. There are the Olympic Games that are happening every four years," he said.

"Next year is going to be very condensed in terms of scheduling. I will try to do as well as I've done in the last couple of years, always peak at the right moments and always try to perform my best at the biggest events."

But 17-time Grand Slam champion Federer knows just how difficult it will be for Djokovic to emulate his triumphs next year and win even more of the prestigious titles.

"It's hard to play at this pace all the time. You are talking about narrow margins, a break point here and there can change the whole outcome," the Swiss maestro said. "You can't always be on the winning side. Margins are very small at the top.

"That is why this year of Novak's is amazing. I've been there, Rafa (Nadal) has been there. We both know how hard it is to back it up year after year.

"It's not the first good year for Novak. Certainly he's going into next year with massive confidence. He's playing great.

"It's going to be hard for him to have a bad year, but you can't just repeat a year like this. It takes a lot of effort. You've got to be in shape physically with no injuries whatsoever. Mentally you have to be at your peak at all times. It's not as easy as it seems sometimes."

Djokovic's masterclass under the dome of London's O2 Arena brought him yet another title at the conclusion of arguably the greatest run by any male player.

As he reflected on his incredible 2015 haul, Djokovic admitted it was close to perfection.

"It's been a great season with many highlights. If I can, I would pick the Grand Slam wins, especially the Wimbledon and US Open," he said. "Overall it's been as close to perfection as it can get.

"I'm just blessed and overwhelmed with the emotion and the thrill to be achieving such a great season. It inspires me even more to keep on going and hopefully playing on this level in the future."

He now finds himself in the conversation as one of the greatest of all time. He needs one more Tour Finals title to catch record-holder Federer and seven more Grand Slams to catch the Swiss great's record-breaking total of 17.

"Obviously with the wins I had this season, I put myself in a very good position," Djokovic said. "I'm convinced with this dedication to the sport, I can achieve more. How much, I don't know.

"I don't have a sense of urgency. I just try to be in the moment and see where it takes me."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 24, 2015, with the headline 'Djokovic targets perfection'. Print Edition | Subscribe