Novak Djokovic sets the highest of targets as he looks to 2023

Novak Djokovic in front of a mike

Novak Djokovic has outlined his ambitions for the new year and they are predictably high.

The Serbian superstar finished 2022 looking like the best player in the world as he won the ATP Finals in impressive fashion.

Yet he lived through the most challenging 12 months of his career after he was blocked from playing in a host of top events due to his refusal to be vaccinated against Covid-19.

Djokovic missed all four Masters events in north America as well as the US Open due to his vaccine status, with his stunning win at Wimbledon in July the highlight of his year.

Speaking at an event for one of his sponsors in Spain, the former world No 1 looked forward to his return to the Australian Open after his defence of the title was ended last year when he was deported.

“When it comes to goals and ambitions, they are always the highest for me,” said Djokovic.

“At this stage of my career, I have to be less humble and modest when I talk about goals.

“Throughout my career I was very fortunate to win the biggest trophies in our sport, so I feel that winning Torino and winning the best tournaments in the world that I still allow myself to dream big.

“The big goals are the Grand Slam events and the Masters 1000 events when I get a chance to play.

“Also playing for my country awakes some amazing emotions for me.

“The biggest goal is to try and stay healthy and perform at the highest level because I don’t see myself playing professional tennis and not being one of the candidates to win a Grand Slam or being one of the top sports in the world.

“I don’t see myself being ranked No 25 and playing a medium-high level. I want to always play at a high level. I demand that from myself and the same from my team and that’s what I want.

“At 35, you have to adjust to an age difference and catch up with the young boys who are pumped and motivated, but I still feel like I am as young as them.”

Djokovic spoke at length about the importance of his tennis shoes, as he admitted he was vital to his movement.

“I need the right push off,” he added at an ASICS event.

“We go into technical details of what is needed and this is because I have very explosive and dynamic movement on the court, so I need to have a good grip.

“When I have the help of the grip and stability of the shoe, I can have more efficient movement. It means I can get to the ball quicker.

“Also at times when I played in Australia or America, I had to chance the socks on court due to the sweat, which wasn’t great.

“The trouble then was there was too much space in the shoe and I had to tie the laces a little tighter and I don’t like that.

“It is all about working on the model of the show and right now, there is nothing I would like to change.”

Djokovic is due to start his 2023 campaign in Adelaide after it was confirmed he will be allowed to enter Australia despite his deportation earlier this year.

When asked last month whether he was considering a date when he might call time on his career he made these comments last month.

“There is no end zone, as they call it in American football. I don’t feel I have thoughts or ideas about how I want to end my career in terms of when I want to end it, if that’s an answer for you,” he said.

“If I had something on my mind, I would share it with you, saying, Okay, this is what I’m navigating towards, and when I do that, I’ll leave the racket. I don’t have that.

“That’s for me the most important thing. If that’s something that is fading away or I’m not feeling that passion or love for the game as much in terms of competition, because I feel like the love for the tennis will never fade away, it will always stay there.

“So I will always stay in tennis in whatever shape, form or role.”