Djoker plays the Australia card as he prepares for Murray

MELBOURNE Sat Jan 26, 2013 1:33pm IST

Novak Djokovic of Serbia speaks during a news conference at the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne January 26, 2013. REUTERS/Toby Melville

Novak Djokovic of Serbia speaks during a news conference at the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne January 26, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Toby Melville

Related Topics

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Novak Djokovic's love affair with Melbourne continued on Saturday as he completed his preparations for his Australian Open final against Britain's Andy Murray.

The Serbian world number one broke through for his first grand slam title in 2008 and has won three of his five major titles on the blue Plexicushion surface at Melbourne Park.

And a day before his potential entry into the record books as the first man to win three successive Australian Open titles in the professional era, he began the PR battle to win the hearts and minds of the Australian fans as well.

"Well, happy Australia Day, first of all, to everybody who is Australian in the house," said Djokovic, who was wearing a small koala lapel badge before he went on to answer why he though he played so well at the year's first grand slam.

"It's my most successful grand slam (and) conditions in general I like, especially in Rod Laver Arena.

"I just think that also a big reason is it's the first big tournament of the year.

"Now we had a little bit longer off season which gave us more time to recharge our batteries, to work on some things, to get ready, you come out here and you want to win the first big trophy of the year.

"I guess that's a fresh start that everybody wants."

Djokovic is expected to be fresher than his increasingly familiar foe on Sunday having had an extra days' rest after he beat David Ferrer in straight sets on Thursday, while Murray was forced into five sets against Roger Federer late into Friday.

The Serb, however, doubted that would have any effect on their match, given Murray had spent less than nine hours on court in five matches prior to his battle against Federer.

"Andy, yes, he has played a five set match against Roger last night. But aside that, he hasn't been really tested the whole tournament," Djokovic said.

"And also he's considered as one of the physically strongest and fittest guys around. So I'm sure he's going to be fit for the finals."

Murray beat Djokovic in last year's U.S. Open final to claim his maiden grand slam title and the 25-year-old Serb, who demolished fourth seed Ferrer in a display of near perfect tennis, said he expected the final would not be as easy.

"I thought he absolutely deserved it because he's been around as a top player for many years. He played in many finals of grand slams. He finally won his title.

"So I think that also gave him a lot of confidence for what was coming up after that. Obviously he's showing again now why he's one of the best players in the world.

"The fact that every time we played in last probably six, seven encounters, it was always a long matches, physically very demanding, going three sets and five sets in grand slams.

"So I guess we have to expect something similar to happen, long rallies, and I'm ready for that." (Editing by Patrick Johnston)

FILED UNDER:

Reuters Showcase

World Cup 2015

World Cup 2015

Dhoni, bowlers shine as India book quarter-final place.  Full Article 

Reuters Poll

Reuters Poll

Rupee to depreciate marginally, yuan to rise a little.  Full Article 

Rape Accused Killed

Rape Accused Killed

Mob in Nagaland breaks into jail, lynches rape suspect.  Full Article 

Govt vs RBI

Govt vs RBI

Government faces potential clashes with RBI over who decides rates.  Full Article 

'India's Daughter'

'India's Daughter'

Society created Delhi gang rape convicts: Filmmaker Leslee Udwin.  Full Article | Related Story 

Ford Injured

Ford Injured

Actor Harrison Ford injured in small-plane crash in Los Angeles.  Full Article 

China Attack

China Attack

Knife attack wounds 9 at Chinese train station, suspect shot dead.  Full Article 

Holi Hai!

Holi Hai!

In Pictures: Festival of Colours.  Full Coverage 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device  Full Coverage