Djokovic downplays concerns over illness, ready to go

Sun Jan 18, 2015 3:05am EST
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By Greg Stutchbury

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Novak Djokovic pronounced himself fit and raring to go in search of his fifth Australian Open title on Sunday after overcoming a bout of illness that had prompted social media users to suggest he was in doubt for the tournament.

Djokovic had cancelled a practice session and news conference on Saturday, which prompted social media to go into a tailspin, though the 27-year-old dispelled those rumours on Sunday.

"I had tough couple of days. But it's all behind me now. I'm ready for the Open," he said after a practice session on Rod Laver Arena.

"Little bit with the flu and stomach. But I carried that already from the Middle East," he added in reference to his withdrawal from an exhibition tournament in Abu Dhabi earlier this month.

"But now it's good. It's passed."

The news the affable Serb had overcome his illness was a relief for the organisers, with the world number one a crowd favourite at Melbourne Park.

He has won three of the past four finals and lost to eventual champion Stanislas Wawrinka last year in an epic quarter-final that finished 9-7 in the fifth set.

Djokovic had already been singled out as the man to beat for the title this year with Rafa Nadal acknowledging the Plexicushion courts were the Serb's favourite surface.   Continued...

Serbia's Novak Djokovic hits a shot during a practice session on Rod Laver Arena at Melbourne Park January 18, 2015. The Australian Open tennis tournament begins on January 19. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha