Djokovic no longer eyeing must-win goals
A NEW-LOOK Novak Djokovic said he had given up on chasing Roger Federer's record 17 Grand Slam titles as he made a winning return to the tennis circuit on Tuesday.
Djokovic, the formerly indomitable Serb who has bullied his rivals over the past two seasons, said he had undergone a radical rethink after his travails of recent months.
The 29-year-old said he no longer saw protecting his world No. 1 ranking, now under threat from Andy Murray, as his priority, or breaking Federer's all-time record.
The 12-time Grand Slam winner beat Fabio Fognini 6-3, 6-3 at the Shanghai Masters in his first match back after skipping last week's China Open with an elbow injury.
"Right now, no," he said, when asked if surpassing Federer's 17 major titles was still one of his goals.
"I don't think about that at all. I don't think about any trophies or No. 1s in the world, rankings, anything like that.
"It's completely different."
Djokovic has been in a funk since completing a career Grand Slam - and a run of four straight major titles - at the French Open in June.
He said he had had a complete change of heart about his approach to tennis because the "must-win mindset... is not working for me any more".
"I feel like I have overcome that step. Right now, it's about just, you know, following my gut, following my instinct, whatever I feel like doing."
The mental revamp is astonishing from a player who has long pushed himself to the limit in pursuit of perfection - but who did not have to stretch himself against Italy's Fognini.
The defending champion will play Grigor Dimitrov or Vasek Pospisil in the third round.