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The Malaysian Insider :: Sports


I want more grand slams, says bleary-eyed Djokovic

Posted: 30 Jan 2011 08:53 PM PST

Novak Djokovic of Serbia poses with the winner's trophy after defeating Andy Murray of Britain in the final of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne January 31, 2011. — Reuters pic

MELBOURNE, Jan 31 — Novak Djokovic belted out Serbian folk songs in an all-in party after clinching the Australian Open, but shrugged off a poor night's sleep to focus on more glory on the clay-courts of Roland Garros. 

"We brought two Serbian guys who played our traditional music for two hours ... We went out of the changing room at 2am. That's all I remember," said a glassy-eyed Djokovic of celebrations at Melbourne Park after his stunning straight sets victory over Briton Andy Murray. 

"I was carrying myself plus my bags and the trophy," he told a small group of reporters today. 

"I was handling myself under the circumstances quite good ... I could not really sleep because I was still under the great impression of winning a title, so it was hard because of the excitement." 

Wearing jeans and a T-shirt on a sweltering day, the lanky 23-year-old looked a little worse for wear as he sat next to the Norman Brookes Challenge Cup at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. 

He perked up enough to gush about having hit his stride after fighting years of doubt as a one-slam wonder since taking his first title at Melbourne Park in 2008. 

"It's been a period of ups and downs for me the last three years ... I haven't had that consistency and self-belief that I've needed to. 

"Right now and the last six months, I feel that I've reached that stage that I believe that I can really win it." 

"In last two months I'm probably playing the best tennis of my life and I cannot ask for a better start to the season. To be able to win the grand slam gives you a lot of confidence." 

Djokovic set up his title with a semi-final trouncing of Roger Federer, and his domination of Murray has fuelled talk of a new grand slam triumvirate, with the Serbian tipped to share more of the grand slam spoils with the Swiss master and Spaniard Rafa Nadal. 

While flattered, the Belgrade-born baseliner said he still needed to prove himself on all surfaces to feel comfortable about the compliment. 

"If the people want to call me a part of the big three, then that's great. I have big respect for Federer and Nadal, they are great examples of champions on and off the court in every sense. 

"If I want to become the best player in the world, I will have to win more grand slams," added Djokovic, who has never surpassed the semi-finals at Roland Garros or Wimbledon. 

"But yes, my goal you can say is (not only) to do well on clay, but to do my best result on Roland Garros." 

After beating Murray under the floodlights at Rod Laver Arena, Djokovic dedicated his victory to Serbia, drawing roars of approval from rows of countrymen clad in red, white and blue in the stands. 

Djokovic, who led Serbia to an emotional victory in the Davis Cup over France in December, grew up through the Balkan wars that ravaged the country and said the bitter times continued to spur him on as a player. 

"We've been growing up through two wars. When you turn around and analyse what you have been through, you appreciate some things more in your life and you know what your values are," he said. 

"Of course everybody loves their country. I don't love my country more than you love yours, but in my case it's a more special feeling because we've been through something different. 

"So to be able to help those people who I know how much they've suffered — and they still suffer because of some problems — it's our obligation in some way to give support and present as best we can." — Reuters   

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Man United’s Park to play on after retiring from internationals

Posted: 30 Jan 2011 06:57 PM PST

SEOUL, Jan 31 — South Korean soccer captain Park Ji-sung formally announced his retirement from the national team today, but the Manchester United midfielder said he still has a few more years of soccer left in him. 

South Korea's coach Cho Kwang-rae had said at the Asian Cup last week that Park had retired from internationals, though the player had not said so himself. 

The 29-year-old represented his country for 11 years, highlighted by the side's semi-final finish at the 2002 World Cup finals co-hosted by South Korea and Japan. 

"It's been an honour to be playing wearing the national team uniform that I'd dreamed of as a young boy," Park told a news conference in Seoul. "I think this is the best decision for myself and for the national team. 

"I think I'll be playing at least three or four more years," he said, adding it would not be in internationals even if he were asked to represent South Korea at the World Cup finals. 

Park captained South Korea at last year's World cup finals in South Africa helping them reach the last 16. 

In 2009, he became the first Asian to play in the Champions League final but ended on the losing side when Barcelona beat United 2-0 in Roma. — Reuters   

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