Djokovic begins new season on perfect note

Published by Tennismash

Novak Djokovic celebrates his victory over Kevin Anderson in the final of the Mubadala World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi; Getty Images
Novak Djokovic appears to have picked up where he left off in 2018, winning the Mubadala World Tennis Championship exhibition event in Abu Dhabi.

Novak Djokovic has swept the field to claim the title at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi.

Although the event is not an officially-sanctioned one, Djokovic’s form at the exhibition tournament bodes well as he prepares to chase a record-breaking seventh Australian Open title in two weeks’ time.

The world No.1 won the trophy in Abu Dhabi thanks to a 4-6 7-5 7-5 win over Kevin Anderson in the final.

It came a day after he gained revenge on Karen Khachanov with a 6-4 6-2 triumph in the semifinals.

Khachanov had beaten Djokovic in the final of the Paris Masters in November, one of the few losses Djokovic suffered in a stellar second half of 2018 during which he rose from outside the top 20 to end the year in top spot.

Djokovic will continue his lead-in to 2019’s first Grand Slam event when he plays the ATP Qatar Open in Doha next week.

At Melbourne Park he will be aiming for his third straight major singles title after scooping the trophies at Wimbledon and the US Open.

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“I would lie if I say I didn’t want to get to as high as Grand Slam wins number possible. That’s definitely the objective, the desire, the goal,” he said.

“Those are probably the tournaments where I want to do my best for the rest of my career, however long that’s going to be, and of course trying to also fight for No. 1 with everyone else.”

For Anderson, he remains winless against the Serb in more than 10 years; his only victory over Djokovic came in Miami in 2008.

But the veteran South African, who enjoyed a career-best year in 2018 highlighted by an appearance in the Wimbledon final – where he again lost to Djokovic – feels he is making important progress.

“I was much better against him today than I was in Wimbledon or the London Finals,” he said.

“I know my game is getting better and better and I feel it’s at a stage where it’s good enough to beat him.

“I have to play well, take my opportunities, figure things out, but I feel like I’m right there and I think I further proved that to myself today.”

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