Novak Djokovic belted out Serbian folk songs in an all-in party 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 2am. That’s all I remember,” a glassy-eyed Djokovic said of celebrations at Melbourne Park after his stunning straight sets victory over Briton Andy Murray.
“I was carrying myself plus my bags and the trophy,” he told reporters yesterday.
“I was handling myself under the circumstances quite good ... 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.
The lanky 23-year-old looked a little worse for wear as he sat next to the Norman Brookes Challenge Cup at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
He 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 ... I haven’t had that consistency and self-belief that I’ve needed to,” he said. “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 said.
The Serb set up his title with a semi-final trouncing of Roger Federer, and his domination of Murray has fuelled talk of a new Grand Slam triumvirate, with the Serbian tipped to share more of the Grand Slam spoils with the Swiss master and Spaniard Rafa 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. I have big respect for Federer and Nadal, they are great examples of champions on and off the court in every sense,” he said.
“If I want to become the best player in the world, I will have to win more Grand Slams,” added Djokovic, who has never been past the semi-finals 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,” he said.
After beating Murray, Djokovic dedicated his victory to Serbia, drawing roars of approval from rows of countrymen 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 that ravaged the country 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.
“Of course everybody loves their country. I don’t love my country more than you love yours, but in my case it’s a more special feeling because we’ve been through something different,” Djokovic said.
“So to be able to help those people who I know how much they’ve suffered — and they still suffer because of some problems — it’s our obligation in some way to give support and present as best we can,” he said.