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After near-perfect 2015, Djokovic targets French Open and Rio glory

tennis Updated: Nov 23, 2015 21:31 IST
2016 Rio Olympic Games

Serbia’s Novak Djokovic celebrates with the trophy after winning the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals against Switzerland’s Roger Federer at London’s O2 Arena on November 22, 2015.(Reuters Photo)

After capping off his season by winning a record fourth straight World Tour Finals title and his 11th tournament of the year, Novak Djokovic has set his sights on surpassing his near-perfect year by winning the only two major titles to have eluded him thus far -- the French Open and Olympics gold.

Djokovic enjoyed a fitting finale to the best season of his life as the Serb crushed Roger Federer 6-3, 6-4 to win the ATP World Tour Finals for a fifth time overall on Sunday. But the 28-year-old is far too competitive and hungry for more success to rest on his laurels and he is already setting goals to keep him motivated in 2016.

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 third Roland Garros final 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 medal 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,” Djokovic said. “Obviously we have to be honest that there is more importance to Grand Slams and the Olympic Games.

“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.”

Djokovic’s masterclass under the dome of London’s O2 Arena brought him an 11th title at the conclusion of arguably the greatest season by any male player. He won 82 of his 88 matches, reached a record 15 consecutive finals, lifted the Wimbledon and the Australian and US Open trophies, as well as earning six Masters 1000 titles, and collected over $17 million in prize money.

Incredible haul

As he reflected on that incredible 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. Obviously sitting here with this trophy alongside me, I couldn’t ask for a better finish.

“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.”

Djokovic’s fifth Tour Finals crown was secured in suitably imperious style as he brushed aside Federer after crushing his old rival Rafael Nadal in the semi-finals.

After spending the start of his career labouring his the shadow of those two greats, Djokovic said he owed much of his success to his desire to prove he was on their level. “Those two rivalries made me a better player, the player I am today, no doubt,” he said.

“They made me understand what I need to do both on and off the court to be able to be in this position now.”

Djokovic 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, knowing that I made a lot of records and history,” Djokovic said when asked if he was motivated by his place in the pantheon of legends.

“Of course, I care about it. It does inspire me.

“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.”