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Anything that worked for Roger Federer will do for Novak Djokovic.
Twelve months after the Swiss announced that he would be taking off the second half of the year to allow knee and back injuries to heal, the Serb followed suit as a result of the right elbow problem which has dogged him since the start of last year.
“I won’t set unrealistic goals, but having accomplished so much in my career I will find it difficult not to aspire to win tournaments,” he said.
“Believe it or not, I am actually looking forward to playing the top seeds in the third or fourth round of major tournaments because for once the pressure will be off.” While the parallels with Federer’s situation are obvious, it remains to be seen whether the outcome will be the same.
Djokovic, who turned 30 two months ago and has won 12 Grand Slam titles, will return to Grand Slam competition in Melbourne, where he has already won the Australian Open six times.
The decision to take a break has not been taken lightly by Djokovic, who has suffered on and off with the injury for the last 18 months. “All the doctors I’ve consulted, and all the specialists I have visited, in Serbia and all over the world, have agreed that this injury requires rest and a prolonged break from the sport is inevitable,” Djokovic said in announcing his decision. I will use the upcoming period to strengthen my body and also to improve certain tennis elements that I have not been able to work on over the past years, due to a demanding schedule.” Much of Djokovic’s success has been built on his outstanding fitness.
Defending champion Andy Murray has been named the top seed at Wimbledon for the first time in his career.
Federer, significantly, took his break at a time of stability in his life both on and off the court.
For Djokovic, life away from tennis has not always been easy over the last two years.
With the world rankings based on a rolling total of points earned over the previous 12 months, he will probably have dropped from his present position at No 4 to around No 15 come the start of next year.
That could lead to the intriguing prospect of his meeting one of the top four players as early as the fourth round.