“No,” he said in an interview with ATP Media in Kazakhstan on Tuesday. “This is an original size that stays in Tel Aviv. We have the smaller replica version. It’s better, more convenient for traveling.”
Djokovic collected this shiny silver trophy (it was almost as wide and tall as his torso) by defeating Marin Cilic in Sunday’s final 6-3, 6-4.
“Winning gives you confidence,” said Djokovic. “I haven’t played an official tournament in three months, so it’s been a while. I’m just looking forward to competing more.”
In fact, since he won his seventh Wimbledon He had only played two titles in July Laver Cup Games towards Tel Aviv. After winning four games in Israel, he will look to go one better in Kazakhstan, an ATP 500 event. The journey begins on Wednesday when he plays Christian Garin from Chile in the first game of the night (6 p.m. local time) at the National Tennis Center. The Serbian star has a 2-0 ATP Head2Head advantage over Garin, most recently a straight set win last year Wimbledon round of 16 Botic Van de Zandschulp is waiting for the winner in the round of 16.
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It’s a fresh start for the 21-time Grand Slam singles champion after what has been a tumultuous, disjointed season so far. A year ago, however, Djokovic couldn’t have been much better.
He won the Australian Open, Roland Garros and Wimbledon, then found a sentence from a calendar year grand slam. He tried to join Don Budge (1938) and Rod Lavar (1962, 1969) as only the third man to achieve this spectacular feat, but Daniel Medvedev denied him at the US Open.
Nonetheless, Djokovic ended the season having won 55 games out of 62 and positioned himself to take control of the three-way race Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer that found them all with a record 20 major titles apiece. That didn’t quite work out.
Djokovic said that despite the similar indoor hard court venues, the conditions in Astana are very different from those in Tel Aviv.
“Tel Aviv was fast. So if you serve well, the ball slides down the field and you get a lot of free points,” said Djokovic, who served exceptionally well in Israel. “It’s not such a big advantage here. Difficult to penetrate the court. You have to use the tactics of clay and construct the points.
“It’s getting a lot more physical.”
Although Djokovic only played 34 games this year (28-6), he is the only ATP Tour player to collect titles on three different surfaces: Rome (clay), Wimbledon (grass) and Tel Aviv (hard).
“Considering the few tournaments I’ve played this year, playing consistently well on the different surfaces is a huge achievement,” said Djokovic. “It’s always a goal to play well all around.”
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His immediate goal, of course, is to win this Astana open, but there is also a bigger challenge. Djokovic is currently No. 15 in the Pepperstone ATP Race to Turin with just five weeks left in the regular season. Assuming he stays in the top 20, he secures a Nitto ATP Finals Berth based on his status as the current year Grand Slam champion.
“Hopefully I can score some points that will secure me a place in Turin,” said Djokovic. “It’s a big goal by the end of the year to qualify.”