Novak Djokovic relishing Andy Murray challenge at Wimbledon 2016
Novak Djokovic admits he was flattered to discover Andy Murray and his coach Ivan Lendl are working overtime to end his two-year reign as Wimbledon champion.Wimbledon 2016 Updated: Jun 28, 2016 16:08 IST
Novak Djokovic admits he was flattered to discover Andy Murray and his coach Ivan Lendl are working overtime to end his two-year reign as Wimbledon champion.
Djokovic holds all four Grand Slam titles after winning the French Open earlier this month and the world number one is heavily favoured to defend his crown at the All England Club.
Murray has been Djokovic’s most consistent rival over the last six months, but the Serb has won 13 of their last 15 meetings, including at the Australian and French Open finals this year.
It was that failure to get the better of Djokovic which played a key role in the world number two’s decision this month to reunite with Lendl, who was Murray’s coach when he defeated Djokovic in the 2013 Wimbledon and 2012 US Open finals.
Lendl announced his return to the fray by claiming he and Murray would do all they could do end Djokovic’s spell as the preeminent force on the men’s tour.
“It’s flattering to hear that,” Djokovic said. “I know there’s been a lot of talk about a potential match-up between Andy and me, and with Ivan coming to his team, but it’s still very early.
“We have to be respectful to all the players at Wimbledon, more than 120 players, so we take it by step by step.”
Djokovic’s coach Boris Becker said he was surprised by Murray’s decision to go back to his former coach given the Scot’s excellent recent form, but the world number one believes it is a good move.
“I don’t think it’s a surprising decision from Andy,” Djokovic said.
“When Ivan was his coach Andy won a couple of Grand Slams, an Olympic gold medal and made the best results in his career.
“I think it was a logical move for him to take. They’re a good team so it’s going to be an interesting tournament.”
While Murray spent last week sealing a record fifth title at Queen’s, Djokovic has not played a competitive match since winning the French Open almost three weeks ago.
The three-time Wimbledon champion instead began honing his grass-court game at The Boodles on Wednesday, an exhibition event, where he lost 6-3, 7-5 to world number 11 David Goffin.
Regardless of his low-key preparation, Djokovic heads to Wimbledon in high spirits after a first success at Roland Garros brought him the last major title missing from his collection.
“There is certainly a great sense of relief, no doubt about it,” Djokovic said.
“Of course I am very proud and thrilled to be able to hold all four grand slam titles at the same time. It’s a remarkable achievement for my team and I.
“But we’re moving on, it’s back on grass now and starting from scratch.”
As well as the calendar Grand Slam, Djokovic could still win the Golden Slam if he adds an Olympic gold medal to that collection.
Golfer Rory McIlroy has announced he will not be travelling to Rio because of concerns regarding the Zika virus, but Djokovic has no intention of withdrawing.
“No, I don’t. I’m still planning to go and it’s going to stay that way,” he added.