Sunday, January 4, 2009

Djokovic Drawn Tough Opener in Brisbane

World number 3 and reigning Australian Open champion, Novak Djokovic, who will kick off his 2009 season at the Brisbane International Tennis Tournament this week, has been handed a tricky draw, where he will face rising Latvian, Ernests Gulbis, in the first round.

Gulbis, who reached a career-high ranking of 38 last August, following his quarterfinal showing at Roland Garros (lost to Djokovic 5,6 and 5), is an old friend of Djokovic's, and despite him falling out of the top 50 at the end of last year, the Latvian will definitely test Djokovic in his season opener.

Gulbis, who was recently referred to as 2009's Juan Martin Del Potro by Ricky Dimon of, is 0-2 against Djokovic, both of those losses coming last year in Roland Garros and Cincinnati.

Despite the daunting first round, Djokovic assured he was up for the task, and is looking forward to defending his Grand Slam title at Melbourne Park later his month, hoping he can use the pressure on his shoulders to his advantage (whatever that means...).

Djokovic on Gulbis:

“He has nothing to lose... He’s a big server and for both of us the first match of the season, so it’s tricky.”

Djokovic on the pressure he faces ahead of the Australian Open:

“Of course there’s going to be a certain amount of expectations and pressure as the Grand Slam champion but I will try to use it in my favour and look at it as a positive challenge.”

"This is a professional sport so if you intend to be one of the best players in the world you have to learn to cope with that pressure and accept it as a part of your life... I will have to put that aside and try to repeat the success of last year."

Check Djokovic's pre-tournament interview here:

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