Jun 24, 2016

    Djokovic flattered by Murray's bid to beat him


    NOVAK Djokovic admits he was flattered to discover Andy Murray and his coach Ivan Lendl are working overtime to end his two-year reign as Wimbledon champion.

    Djokovic holds all four Grand Slam titles after winning the French Open earlier this month and the world No. 1 is heavily favoured to defend his crown at the All England Club.

    Murray has been Djokovic's most consistent rival over the last six months.

    However, the Serb has won 13 of their last 15 meetings, including at the Australian and French Open finals this year.

    It was that failure to get the better of Djokovic which played a key role in the world No. 2's decision this month to reunite with Lendl.

    The latter was Murray's coach when he defeated Djokovic in the 2013 Wimbledon and 2012 US Open finals.

    Lendl announced his return to the fray by claiming he and Murray would do all they could to end Djokovic's spell as the pre-eminent force on the men's tour.

    "It's flattering to hear that," Djokovic said. "I know there's been a lot of talk about a potential match-up between Andy and me, and with Ivan coming to his team, but it's still very early.

    "We have to be respectful to all the players at Wimbledon, more than 120 players, so we take it by step by step."

    While Murray spent last week sealing a record fifth title at Queen's, Djokovic has not played a competitive match since winning the French Open almost three weeks ago.

    The three-time Wimbledon champion instead began honing his grass-court game at The Boodles on Wednesday, an exhibition event, where he lost 6-3, 7-5 to world No. 11 David Goffin.

    Regardless of his low-key preparation, Djokovic heads to Wimbledon in high spirits after a first success at Roland Garros brought him the last major title missing from his collection.

    "There is certainly a great sense of relief, no doubt about it," he said.

    "Of course, I am very proud and thrilled to be able to hold all four grand slam titles at the same time. It's a remarkable achievement for my team and I.

    "But we're moving on, it's back on grass now and starting from scratch."

    As well as the calendar Grand Slam, Djokovic could still win the Golden Slam if he adds an Olympic gold medal to that collection.

    Golfer Rory McIlroy has said he will not be going to Rio because of concerns regarding the Zika virus but Djokovic has no intention of withdrawing.

    "I'm still planning to go and it's going to stay that way," he said.