Home > Other sports > Tennis player Djokovic targets Nadal in year-end rankings race

Tennis player Djokovic targets Nadal in year-end rankings race

BELGRADE (AFP) — Novak Djokovic, buoyed by his first Grand Slam final appearance, says he is confident of overtaking world No. 2 Rafael Nadal in the year-end rankings race, Serbian media reported Wednesday.

“I know that there is a chance for me to catch Nadal by the end of the year,” the US Open runner-up told a press conference at Belgrade airport after jetting in from New York, according to the daily Sportski Zurnal.

Djokovic secured his first trip to the prestigious season-ending Masters Cup in Shanghai at the US Open, where he lost 7-6 (7/4), 7-6 (7/2), 6-4 in the final to world No. 1 Roger Federer after squandering seven set points.

The 20-year-old tennis sensation added however that his immediate goal was to lead Serbia into the elite stages of the Davis Cup in a play-off against Lleyton Hewitt’s Australia next week.

The September 21-23 tie against the Aussies is expected to be the highest attended non-final in Davis Cup history, with around 20,000 tickets snapped up within 48 hours of going on sale last month.

“I’m expecting the matches against Australia in Beogradska Arena to be really interesting,” said Djokovic, who was met at the airport late on Tuesday by a throng of media and fans, including Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica.

“I’m really tired, but I’m still in good form,” he said, adding he would aim to ease his workload and stay in Europe ahead of the Shanghai Masters.

“I will continue the season, after the Davis Cup matches, by playing tournaments in Europe.

“I will play less, because I have played a number of exhausting matches this season.

“Of course, my main objective is the tournament in Shanghai, but I will play in Vienna, Madrid and Paris before that.”

In the Davis Cup tie, Serbia hope to avenge the 5-0 lashing Australia handed out to them the last time they played in the world group stages of the competition in 1991.

That humiliating defeat under the flag of Yugoslavia was followed by a three-year ban imposed as part of sanctions against Belgrade for its part in the Balkan wars.

But this year has seen a new wave of Serbian tennis stars emerge on the world scene, including Djokovic, women’s world No. 3 Jelena Jankovic and No. 6 Ana Ivanovic.

Djokovic, who has risen to No. 3 in the rankings from No. 16 at the start of 2007, closed the gap behind Nadal to little more than 1,000 points with his performance in New York.

Any points he picks up at the Masters in Shanghai will be a bonus in the rankings race.

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