World number one Novak Djokovic is under no illusion as to the enormity of the task he faces in winning a third successive Australian Open.
Speaking after bouncing back to his very best by thrashing German veteran Tommy Haas at the mixed teams Hopman Cup on Friday, Djokovic said he was on track for his Australian Open title defence.
The 6-2, 6-0 win over the 21st-ranked Haas followed a disappointing straight sets loss to 20-year-old Australian Bernard Tomic on Wednesday, the Serbian’s first defeat on Australian soil since 2010.
Djokovic, who opened the year by winning in Abu Dhabi before a late arrival at the Hopman Cup, said he was feeling much fresher after a few more days in Australia and where he wanted to be heading into the year’s first Grand Slam.
While his great rival Rafael Nadal, who he beat in an epic five-set final that lasted nearly six hours in Melbourne last year, won’t be there due to illness, Djokovic said that didn’t make his task any easier.
He pointed to Andy Murray’s breakthrough victory at the US Open as evidence of the mounting depth in men’s tennis.
He lamented the absence of Nadal, describing it as sad, and dismissed any concerns over his shock loss to Tomic.