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Relieved Djokovic Looks For More Success In Miami

Miami, U.S.A.

Djokovic© Getty ImagesNovak Djokovic is chasing his fourth Miami title.

World No. 2 Novak Djokovic admitted it is with a sense of relief that he enters the Sony Open Tennis in Miami, having captured his first ATP World Tour title of the season last week at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells.

The Serb was beaten in the quarter-finals of the Australian Open as he attempted to win the Melbourne major for the fourth year in a row and also failed to retain his Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships title, losing to Roger Federer in the semi-finals. Doubts were beginning to creep into Djokovic’s mind.

But last week, the Belgrade native returned to the winners’ circle in style at the first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournament of the year, battling his way through the draw before edging Federer in a third set tie-break to lift the trophy.

“It was a relief for me,” Djokovic told the assembled media at Crandon Park on Thursday. “I haven't played many tournaments; I haven't played many matches. I knew I was playing well. I had an incredible end of 2013, so I did have confidence. 

“But I started doubting myself a little bit on the court. I was struggling a little bit with my, I would say, consistency and the concentration. Throughout the [Indian Wells] tournament, I had ups and downs, but I managed to win four out of six matches in three sets.

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“Mentally it's a very encouraging win that gives me confidence and that also is very special in a way. This time of the year I needed it very much, and hopefully I can carry that into this week.”

The 26-year-old Djokovic is bidding to win the Miami title for the fourth time, following victories in 2007 (d. Canas), 2011 (d. Nadal) and 2012 (d. Murray), but he will do so without head coach Boris Becker, who was unable to travel after undergoing unplanned surgery on both his hips. Djokovic will again be accompanied by Marian Vajda, who was also in the Serb’s corner in Indian Wells.

Seeded second, Djokovic will open his campaign against Jeremy Chardy and could face his third contest of the year with Federer in the semi-finals. Having played two nail-biters with Federer already in 2014, Djokovic has witnessed first-hand the renewed confidence with which the 17-time Grand Slam champion is playing this year.

“I think he's playing at a high level,” said Djokovic. “He's back to his normal level, the level that he had for seven, eight years while he was so dominant in men's tennis. Obviously last season he was not as good for his standards.

“But this year he started strong. I can feel that he's striking the ball very cleanly. He's very confident on the court and he has improved his backhand I think. Maybe it's the racquet or something else, but he definitely has more depth on that shot. He's going more for his top spins rather than slicing it. 

“Of course, with his immense experience and success that he had in his career, he's never to be ruled out. It doesn't matter how old he is. It's just a number. As he was saying, he feels good on the court. He's fit. He's definitely one of the best players in the world now.”

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