Hard-headed Djokovic has mind set on bigger prize

·3-min read
Defending Wimbledon men's champion Novak Djokovic says he has developed the ability to ignore off court distractions and focus on the match in hand

Novak Djokovic says he can block out distractions as he bids to defend his Wimbledon title which would see him equal Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer's record Grand Slam singles haul of 20.

The 34-year-old Serb arrives at Wimbledon -- he plays 19-year-old British wild card Jack Draper on Monday -- on the back of an epic success over Greece's Stefanos Tsitsipas in the French Open final a fortnight ago.

Victory at Wimbledon would leave him just needing to win the US Open to secure a calendar Grand Slam of majors having won the Australian Open earlier in the season.

"There is always something on the line I feel like for me, probably Roger and Rafa as well, when it comes to the tennis history in the last couple of years," he said at his pre-Wimbledon press conference on Saturday.

"We've been very successful, particularly in Slams.

"Of course, I understand that people love to debate who is the greatest, who is going to have the most titles, etcetera, etcetera.

"There's always a lot going on I think off the tennis court.

"But once I'm on the court, I try to lock in and I try to exclude all the distractions.

"I feel like over the years I managed to develop the mechanism that allows me to do that."

- 'Preserve culture' -

One of the distractions which Djokovic enjoys is having his family with him at tournaments.

However, due to coronavirus protocols, all the players are in a bubble and only allowed three members of their team with them.

"It is what it is," he said. "Obviously you don't like being in a bubble.

"It's not the first, but hopefully one of the last bubbles we will have."

Wimbledon, though, can counter-balance any negative thoughts about missing his family as it is the one Grand Slam venue that raises his spirits.

"Hopefully I'll be able to do as well here in Wimbledon as I have in '18 and '19," he said.

"I've been on a run on these courts. I love being here.

"It has always been a dream tournament for me when I was a seven-year-old dreaming to win Wimbledon.

"It always gives me goose bumps walking onto these courts and inspires me to play my best."

Djokovic admits that come Monday it will be Draper -- "I honestly do not know too much about him" -- not him for whom the spectators are cheering.

However, the five-time champion accepts that and admits "it can be very dangerous" playing against a "home favourite."

However, win or lose against the 250th-ranked Draper -- the 2018 boys finalist at Wimbledon -- it will not affect his deep love for the tournament.

"It does feel different from any other slam really," he said.

"Walking onto the Centre Court at Wimbledon, no advertisements, no banners, everything is about tennis, all the focus is on players and on the court.

"I just find that very fascinating considering we're living in very commercial, very material world today, that Wimbledon managed to preserve its culture, its tradition, which is phenomenal."

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