Novak Djokovic history surge inspired by 2016 Golden Slam heartbreak

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By AFP

LONDON: Novak Djokovic admitted Wednesday that his 2016 Golden Slam heartbreak is inspiring him in his latest assault on the tennis record books.

Having already captured the Australian Open and French Open titles this season, the world number one is halfway to becoming only the third man to complete the calendar Grand Slam of all four majors.

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However, if he wins Wimbledon and the US Open as well as an Olympic gold medal in Tokyo, he would be the first man to win the Golden Grand Slam.

Djokovic was on target to achieve an identical sweep in 2016 when he won in Melbourne as well as at Roland Garros.

But he lost in the third round at Wimbledon to Sam Querrey, the first round of the Rio Olympics to Juan Martin del Potro before Stan Wawrinka defeated him in the final of the US Open.

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“I’m going to try to learn from that experience that I had in 2016,” said Djokovic after easing past Kevin Anderson 6-3, 6-3, 6-3 to make the third round at Wimbledon for the 15th time.

“I won the first two Slams of the year, coming in here in Wimbledon, actually feeling great, playing great, but then I lost the third round against of course a great opponent, Sam Querrey, who was a better player that day. 

“I felt a little bit different, maybe a little bit deflated. I don’t want to say demotivated because playing Wimbledon is always a dream for any player, including myself. 

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“It was the first time I experienced that kind of situation and circumstances. So this time I would like to think I am a bit wiser and a bit more experienced as a player and person.”

On Wednesday, Djokovic survived a series of falls on Centre Court to keep his pursuit of a sixth Wimbledon and record-equalling 20th Grand Slam title on track.

Each time, the 34-year-old dusted himself down to set up a clash against American qualifier Denis Kudla.

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Djokovic cruised to victory over Anderson, who he defeated in the 2018 final, without facing a single break point and committing just six unforced errors.

“I have a nice connection with the crowd,” added Djokovic.

“I also seem to be having a really nice connection with the grass. I don’t recall falling so much in the first two matches at Wimbledon previously.”

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However, Djokovic, who also struggled with his footwork in his opening round win over Jack Draper, later refused to blame the courts.

“I think the fact that I didn’t play on grass courts for two years,” he said.

“The fact that I’m coming from several months of clay court that is a surface completely different in terms of movement and bounce and everything to the grass.

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“I’m still adjusting my movement, adapting myself to this surface. It’s only been two matches.”

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