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Improved Djokovic in frame for second Slam

sports Updated: Jan 28, 2011 13:16 IST

AFP
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Novak Djokovic says he is physically and mentally stronger and suited by Melbourne's hardcourt surface as he chases his second Grand Slam title in Sunday's Australian Open final.

The Serbian world number three put Roger Federer to the sword in three dynamic sets to reach the final in a performance reminiscent of his demolition of the Swiss great here three years ago, on the way to winning his first Slam.

Djokovic was 20 back then and, still on a high after leading Serbia to their first Davis Cup triumph last month, he believes he is putting the pieces together to claim his second major against either Andy Murray or David Ferrer.

"I'm three years older and I'm a more experienced player on the court," Djokovic said.

"Physically, I'm stronger. I definitely feel like that. I was a 20-year-old kid hitting as hard as I could with closed eyes and everything was going in back then. It was great. Felt great.

"Then over the years I faced some new situations, the pressure of defending Grand Slams and things like that.

"You grow up. You get this knowledge and the necessary experience. You just have to accept that as a good school and move on. That's what I did."

Djokovic said he has had his ups and downs over the last three years but now has emerged as a better player.

"Right now I feel like I'm much stronger and more consistent and I know that I'm more stable, mentally and physically," he said.

"I hope that I can hold onto this for the whole year because it's important.

"If you want to stay at the top of the men's tennis you have to play consistently well all the time."

Another thing in Djokovic's favour is his partiality to the Plexicushion hardcourt surface that has been in place at Melbourne Park since 2008, the year of his first triumph, after replacing Rebound Ace.

"Actually, I like this surface and I've been saying that before," he said.

"It has the conditions that are very suitable to my game. It's a bit slower and gives me enough time to have a couple of options in what I want to do with the ball. I can spin it out, flatten it out.

"I need a little bit more time for my game, and the slower surfaces are more suited to my style of the game, and this is a great court. I like playing on it.

"I've been playing my best tennis in this tournament. This is the only Grand Slam I've won and again this year I've been playing great, losing only a set before finals.

"That shows that this surface is really suitable to my game."

Djokovic once again destroyed Federer's famed backhand, breaking down the defending champion's big weapon to concede 28 errors among his match error total of an above-average 44.

"I learned from the experiences of playing against him so many times in the last two, three years," he said.

"He expected me as a very aggressive player to come in to the net and I knew that if I wanted to win the match I had to stay positive. When I was given the chance I should use it.

"So I wasn't really trying to hit every ball as hard as I could. I tried to create the point and then when I had a comfortable ball on the forehand I stepped in and hit it.

"I was more aggressive than I usually am against him."

Djokovic hit 15 forehand winners and six on the backhand while dominating Federer from the backcourt.