No more meltdowns for 'more efficient' Djokovic

Wed Jan 15, 2014 3:02am EST
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By Ian Ransom

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - The Novak Djokovic that bowed out of his first Australian Open title defense with heat sickness in 2009 has now been replaced by a mentally and physically tougher upgrade not prone to meltdowns, the world number two said.

After a rusty opening round, Djokovic's bid for a fourth successive title at Melbourne Park shifted up a gear on Wednesday as he trounced Argentine Leonardo Mayer 6-0 6-4 6-4 in Rod Laver Arena to march to the third round on another day of stifling heat.

Players have grumbled about the conditions, and a Canadian in the men's draw described the tournament's organizers as "inhumane" after he fainted on Tuesday when temperatures peaked at 42 degrees Celsius (108 Fahrenheit).

In 2009, a 21-year-old Djokovic was criticized by players and pundits for pulling out of his quarter-final when trailing American Andy Roddick on a day of extreme heat, having earned a reputation for retiring when the going got tough.

There was little moaning from the Serb on Wednesday, however, after he wrapped up his match against 98th-ranked Mayer in less than two hours to escape the 40-degree heat.

Apart from the hat-trick of titles won at Melbourne Park from 2011-13, Djokovic said there were "plenty of differences" between himself and the 2009 model.


"Obviously as the years go by, I'm more mature as a player, as a person. I learned new things in life. I developed myself," he said.   Continued...

Novak Djokovic of Serbia hits a return to Leonardo Mayer of Argentina during their men's singles match at the Australian Open 2014 tennis tournament in Melbourne January 15, 2014. REUTERS/Jason Reed