The expectations that come with being the undisputed world No.1 could easily become overwhelming.
But not for peerless Serb Novak Djokovic.
Fresh from the best year of his career – including three more major titles and staggering 2015 win-loss record of 82-6 – Djokovic has made another flying start to the new campaign, winning his opening tournament in Doha and cruising into the fourth round of the Australian Open without dropping a single set.
Italian Andreas Seppi had his moments in their third-round clash on Friday night – most notably in the third-set tiebreaker when he had two set points – only for Djokovic to inexorably up the ante, winning the final four points and the match.
Next up is French No.14 seed Gilles Simon, whose only victory in 10 previous matches against the top seed was eight long years ago.
Back then, Simon was about to break into the world’s top 10 for the first time, while Djokovic had only recently claimed his maiden major at Melbourne Park.
That grand slam tally now stands at 10 – and counting.
“The kind of commitment and dedication to the sport that is necessary from a tennis player today is very high and you have to be very professional in every aspect of your life,” said Djokovic.
“But it’s your choice whether or not you’re accepting that challenge and you’re accepting that demand.
“The more you win, actually the higher expectations are from yourself and from others.
“But it’s better to be in that position than to not have that success, so I’m personally very grateful to be in the position to play and be the best in what I do.”
Among the secrets of Djokovic’s success is to keep a consistent inner circle of trusted advisers.
“I try not to pay too much attention to certain speculations, predictions and so forth, because that can cause a distraction that I don’t need,” he said.
“I don’t need an additional pressure because pressure is part of what we do and it’s already there.
“You try to keep it very simple so when the going gets tough you try to dig out what’s in you.
“You’ve got to be tough, not just on match days but on off days as well.”
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