Serbian ace Novak Djokovic warned he was in the form of his life and hoping to repeat his landmark 2011 as he prepares to unleash his title tilt at the Australian Open.
The world number one said he would take some stopping as he bids to add to last year's triple grand slam triumph, achieved during a breathtaking year often described as the best the sport has seen. "You can always see the negatives and positives. I'm always trying to take the positive side and say, okay, I've done it once, I can do it twice," he told journalists in Melbourne.
Djokovic said the London Olympics were firmly in his sights and that he planned to enter both the singles and the men's doubles in a bid to bring home a medal to Serbia. "It's right up there. It's one of the biggest priorities this year, Olympic Games. I had that privilege to represent my country in 2008. It was a remarkable experience, like no other," he said.
He also shrugged off the challenge of resurgent world number three Roger Federer, who is coming off a 20-match winning streak including victory at the ATP World Tour Finals at the end of last season. "Well, he finished off the season best from all the other players. He had over 15 wins in a row. He definitely loves playing indoors. He loves playing in the London event," Djokovic said.
"But it's a whole new year. It's a whole new season. We're starting to play outdoors. We'll see if everybody can keep up."
Kim Clijsters, who is set to retire for a second time this year, hopes to say farewell to Australia by defending her title at Melbourne Park after a hip-injury sustained at the Brisbane International last week was deemed as not serious. "I had my scan just to make sure ... but that showed no problems. So I was relieved (and then) came to Melbourne and started hitting," said the 28-year-old who has indicated this will be her last year on tour but has been cagey about exactly when she takes her final bow.
"I just felt very focused on why I'm here, and that's obviously to play good tennis and try to stay healthy throughout the whole season, not to have major injuries where my season might be a question mark, which I would kind of like to end on my terms," she added. So, yeah, I'm not thinking about it (retirement) at all."
Stosur faces demons
Samantha Stosur will confront her mental demons once again at Melbourne Park where the burden of expectation has often left her cowering.
The Australian's emphatic US Open win in September has ratcheted up the pressure, with local fans expectant of a first home champion since Chris Lewis's 1978 triumph in the women's singles.
However, Stosur, who has never been past the fourth round in nine appearances here, has appeared brittle on Australian soil, bundling out early in both the Brisbane and Sydney events. "I definitely assess what happened out on court and why, all that kind of thing," Stosur said of her disappointing leadup.