Melbourne. Novak Djokovic belted out Serbian folk songs into the early morning hours after clinching the Australian Open, but shrugged off a poor night’s sleep to focus on more glory on the clay courts of Roland Garros.
“We brought two Serbian guys who played our traditional music for two hours. We went out of the changing room at 2 a.m. That’s all I remember,” said a glassy-eyed Djokovic of celebrations at Melbourne Park after his stunning straight sets victory over Briton Andy Murray.
“I could not really sleep because I was still under the great impression of winning a title, so it was hard because of the excitement,” he said on Monday.
The lanky 23-year-old perked up enough to gush about having hit his stride after fighting years of doubt as a one-slam wonder since taking his first title at Melbourne Park in 2008.
“It’s been a period of ups and downs for me the last three years,” he said. “I haven’t had that consistency and self-belief that I’ve needed to.
“Right now, and the last six months, I feel that I’ve reached that stage that I believe that I can really win it.
“In last two months I’m probably playing the best tennis of my life and I cannot ask for a better start to the season. To be able to win the Grand Slam gives you a lot of confidence.”
Djokovic set up his title with a semifinal trouncing of Roger Federer, and his domination of Murray has fueled talk of a new Grand Slam triumvirate, with the Serbian tipped to share more of the spoils with the Swiss master and Spaniard Rafael Nadal.
While flattered, the Belgrade-born baseliner said he still needed to prove himself on all surfaces to feel comfortable about the compliment.
“If the people want to call me a part of the ‘big three,’ then that’s great,” he said.
“I have big respect for Federer and Nadal, they are great examples of champions on and off the court in every sense.”
“If I want to become the best player in the world, I will have to win more Grand Slams,” added Djokovic, who has never done better than the semifinals at Roland Garros or Wimbledon.
“But yes, my goal you can say is [not only] to do well on clay, but to do my best result on Roland Garros.”
After beating Murray under the floodlights at Rod Laver Arena, Djokovic dedicated his victory to Serbia, drawing roars of approval from rows of countrymen and women clad in red, white and blue in the stands.
Djokovic, who led Serbia to an emotional victory in the Davis Cup over France in December, grew up through the Balkan wars and said the bitter times continued to spur him on as a player.
“We’ve been growing up through two wars. When you turn around and analyze what you have been through, you appreciate some things more in your life and you know what your values are,” he said.
“So to be able to help those people who I know how much they’ve suffered, it’s our obligation in some way to give support and present as best we can.”