MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – Novak Djokovic has a new goal for the year. He calls it the Djoker Slam.
The No. 1-ranked player has one thing missing from his fast-growing collection of 11 Grand Slam trophies.
“The French Open. It’s the one I never won,” Djokovic said early Monday, after winning his record sixth Australian Open, but already casting an eye toward Paris. “I’ll try to put myself in a position to get that trophy.”
Djokovic’s relentless desire for tennis perfection has pushed him to a brilliant level, one that was too high for Andy Murray who lost Sunday’s final 6-1, 7-5, 7-6 (7-3). The straight-sets win highlighted Djokovic’s dominance and Murray’s shortcomings: the No. 2-ranked Murray has now played five finals in Melbourne and lost them all — including four to Djokovic.
It also stamped Djokovic’s imprint on the tournament, tying him with Roy Emerson for the most singles titles in the event’s long history. Emerson played in the 1960s and won his Australian titles in the amateur era.
Djokovic’s strong start to the season comes after a year that has been described as one of the finest in tennis history. He finished 2015 at No. 1 for the fourth time in five years. He won the Australian Open, Wimbledon and the U.S. Open.
He reached the final at the French Open, but lost to Stan Wawrinka. It was his third runnerup trophy at Roland Garros.
“Each year when I go back I feel like I’m a step closer,” Djokovic said during a TV interview after the final. He was asked, if he does win at the French and manage to capture four consecutive major championships, would he give it a name? On the women’s side, Serena Williams has done it before and her feat was called the “Serena Slam.”
“Djoker Slam. Not bad, I like that one,” said the 28-year-old Serbian, referring to his nickname, the Djoker.
Murray had his share of distractions in Australia. His wife, Kim, is due to have their first child in February and didn’t travel with him. Kim’s father, Nigel Sears, was in Australia as coach for Ana Ivanovic, but became ill and had to be rushed to a nearby hospital by ambulance while Murray was on court in his third-round match. After a night in hospital, Nigel Sears was well enough to return home, which meant Murray could stay in Australia and try to refocus on winning the title.
“It’s been a tough few weeks for me away from the court,” Murray said in his post-match speech, before turning his attention to his wife.
“You’ve been a legend the last two weeks. Thank you so much for all your support,” he said, choking back tears and waving as he walked away from the microphone. “I’ll be on the next flight home.”