Confident Djokovic sweet on success as Melbourne title defence begins

Gluten-free fitness fanatic Novak Djokovic handed out "healthy" chocolate treats to the media on Sunday as the 2015 season dominator prepared for another serving of success at the Australian Open.

In what has become a minor tradition after twice doing it at the year-end championships in London, the world number 1 passed around his sweet treats after warning that his lethal game is firing well as he heads into a first-round match on Monday against South Korea's Chung Hyeon.

"2015 was the best season and year of my life. I enjoyed every moment I spent on the court," said the player who won 11 titles, including three of the four grand slams.

"Every time I go back to Rod Laver Arena I have great memories. I’ll try to obviously carry that confidence and high level of performance that I’ve had, especially towards the end of the year, into the new season.

"But you've got to be ready for what is coming here. The weather is unpredictable. They call it the city of four seasons in one day," Djokovic said of weather which has already plunged this week from 44 Celcius to half that but is now resting in the comfortable 25-degree range.

Djokovic is respectfully wary of opening opponent Chung, tipped as a name for the future. "He's one of the rising stars. I haven't seen him play too much, he hits pretty solidly from the back of the court."

Should the 28-year-old Djokovic triumph again in a fortnight, he would tie Aussie great Roy Emerson on six Melbourne trophies.

Djokovic started 2016 with a Doha ATP title, and pointed out to reporters that he did not drop a single set on the way.

“Hopefully I can play many matches. That means that I would do well. If I am able to do the same or better, like 2015, I’m not sure. Honestly, it’s just the beginning. I try to take one tournament at a time.”

Others on court on the opening day of the year's first major will include third seed Roger Federer, a four-time champion who has stalled in the semi-finals in four of the last five editions.

The Swiss starts against outsider Nikoloz Basilashvili of Georgia.

In the women's draw, top seed Serena Williams will test a knee injury which knocked her out of the Hopman Cup as she plays her first official match in more than four months, facing Camila Giorgi.

The American insists that knee inflammation is not a problem, but she was unable to complete more than a set in Perth earlier this month and has clamped a lid on details of her questionable condition.

The American cut her 2015 short in tears after losing to Italian Robert Vinci in a US Open semi-final, missing the possible chance of completing a calendar-year grand slam sweep. She emerged only to play exhibitions in Denmark and Asia before Christmas.


Last update: Sun, 17/01/2016 - 13:59

More from Sport

Sevilla beat Real Madrid to end their 40-game unbeaten run

Sevilla ended Real Madrid’s 40-game unbeaten run on Sunday in Spain’s top division with a 2-1 victory.

Barcelona president reassures supporters over Messi's future

 Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu reassured supporters on Saturday that the club would renew Leo Messi’s...

Record champion Peterhansel clinches Dakar rally win

Record winner Stephane Peterhansel secured his 13th Dakar Rally victory when he held off fellow Peugeot driver...

Croatia's Kostelic says goodbye to World Cup races in Wengen

Swiss Niels Hintermann on Friday won a World Cup Wengen men's super combined, while the best Croatian Alpine skier,...

Benzema strike helps Madrid set unbeaten record in cup thriller

Karim Benzema's stoppage time strike helped Real Madrid set a new Spanish record of 40 games unbeaten on Thursday,...