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Djokovic better prepared for title defence

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Originally published on: 26/02/10 12:56

The defence of his Australian Open title in Melbourne ended in retirement against a rejuvenated Andy Roddick in the quarter-finals, but he feels he is now better placed to deal with the situation.

“This year I have tasted, in Australia, for the first time the role of defending a major title and it wasn’t really a fun time. I was mentally very frustrated at times and unfortunately I finished in the quarter-finals the way I finished,” he said. “But, on the bright side, I’ve learned a lot of things and I’ve tried to take the best out of it.”

He added: “I rate the World Tour Finals alongside grand slams as the biggest event in our sport, so being a title defender is obviously a big responsibility.

“At the start of the year, even though I had the best clay-court season in my whole career up to Roland Garros, I was going through tough times because I made some major changes with my racquet.

“It’s a big change to make and I took the responsibility. It kind of affected me on the court and I was maybe paying too much attention to some things off the court, I maybe kept my focus out of tennis too much.

“But I stabilised the last two months and matured more, and I know what I want to do on the court. I’m happy.”

By beating Roger Federer in the final of the world number one’s hometown tournament in Basle then lifting the trophy at the Paris Masters, Djokovic has established himself as arguably the man to beat in London this week.

The Serb opens his campaign in the round-robin event against Nikolay Davydenko on Monday, while Rafael Nadal faces Robin Soderling in the other Group B match.

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