Novak Djokovic sends Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer warning over US Open
NOVAK DJOKOVIC has warned rivals Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer that he is back to the level of tennis he wants to play at ahead of the US Open this month.
The Serbian returned to the ATP Tour yesterday with a 6-3, 7-6 win over lucky loser Mirza Basic at the Rogers Cup and faces home hope Peter Polansky today in the second round (4pm UK time).
The 31-year-old is high on confidence off the back of his Wimbledon triumph last month, his first Grand Slam since the 2016 French Open as he overcame Kevin Anderson in straight sets after downing Nadal in the semis.
That restored Djokovic to the top 10 of the rankings and he will target another surge up the standings throughout the hard-court season - with the main prize the US Open.
Djokovic, a 13-time Grand Slam winner, has won twice in New York with world No 1 Nadal the reigning champion this year.
Novak Djokovic saw off Rafael Nadal at Wimbledon last month (Image: GETTY)
Roger Federer will hope for a first US Open in 10 years (Image: GETTY)
Federer boasts a joint-Open Era record five triumphs at the US Open but has not won there for a decade despite competing ever year bar 2016.
But Djokovic has warned his two rivals that he is in ideal shape in the build up to the season’s fourth and final Major tournament following the “true blast” of his Wimbledon win.
“It was quite a ride, quite a journey,” he reflected on last month’s SW19 success to ATP World Tour’s Tennis TV. “Post-surgery, several months I was trying to find my form.
“I worked very hard, probably harder than ever. I had to trust the process and be patient and that’s probably the biggest lesson I’ve learned because I probably wasn’t that patient throughout my life!
Novak Djokovic claimed his 13th Grand Slam triumph at Wimbledon last month (Image: GETTY)
“I had to learn that and understand that good things come with time and it takes time especially after surgery to hit thousands and thousands of balls and really get a comfortable feel on the court and eventually start playing well.
“It has happened for me, the big comeback, winning a big trophy in Wimbledon, in the best possible scenario in the best possible setting.
“Wimbledon is definitely the most well-known tennis tournament in the world and the one that I always dreamt of winning so it was a true blast.
“I was actually looking forward to having some time off and six months with no tournaments [while I was injured] was fantastic.
“I mean of course towards the end of that, I started missing tennis and started training but I had plenty of things to do, [seeing] friends and family, it was lovely.
“When I started training for the new season I felt pain again and kind of played with the pain in Australia then the surgery was inevitable.
Novak Djokovic in action in his Rogers Cup first-round win over Basic (Image: GETTY)
Novak Djokovic returned to the ATP Tour yesterday (Image: GETTY)
“After that, the season started, I wasn’t fit and frustrations kicked in. Obviously I struggled mentally a little bit there.
“At the same time it had to happen for me to really understand myself on a deeper level, understand what I need to do and in which way I need to approach this sport and training and to get myself back on a desired level.
“The last couple of months have been terrific really; Roland Garros, Queen’s and the Wimbledon title. I finally think reached the level that I want to play on.”
If Djokovic is to add to his success this year with a Rogers Cup victory, he will have to beat Polansky and then likely face Dominic Thiem and defending champion Alexander Zverev just to reach the semi-finals.