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Djokovic fit and ready for opening slam

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Originally published on: 26/02/10 12:59

The Serb’s bid for a second consecutive crown at Melbourne Park wilted under the baking sun as cramps forced his early retirement from his quarter-final against Andy Roddick when trailing 7-6 (7-3) 4-6 2-6 1-2.

“I was in the role of defending champion at a grand slam for the first time in my life so I was going through a lot of tough periods at the start of 2009,” said Djokovic. “I didn’t feel 100% physically ready for the tournament, then I changed my racquet and I think it all reflected on my game and on court, and I was going through a lot of stress periods. Unfortunately, I finished the way I did – but this year is quite different and I just hope it won’t finish that way.”

A change in off-court personnel – and attitude – has the world number three excited about his prospects for 2010.

Djokovic spent almost two weeks in high-altitude training in the Italian Alps followed by further intensive training in Dubai.

The contrasting conditions, he believes, will hold his body in good stead for the harsh Australian summer.

“Training up high helps the blood cells and gets more oxygen to the body. I always try to get to the mountains and then rest two weeks,” he added.

Former world number four Todd Martin has joined the Djokovic camp as a new coach to work alongside long-time mentor Marian Vajda.

“I think (it) is a good decision because he’s a great person, very calm, and he brings this calmness to the team. It’s totally opposite from me,” Djokovic said.

“He was at the top of men’s tennis for many years, and he knows what the deal is on the court and he can help me a lot. He has a lot of experience.”

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