A beaming Novak Djokovic showed off his Australian Open trophy in Melbourne on 1 February, saying the desire to become the greatest tennis player always be his "motivation" in the years to come. The 28-year-old world number one vanquished Andy Murray for the fourth time in an Australian Open to win a record-equalling sixth title and serve notice to his rivals that he's just getting started.
The Serbian's fifth crown in six years on his favourite court not only allowed him to match Roy Emerson's record Australian Open tally but also brought him level with Rod Laver and Bjorn Borg on 11 grand slam titles.
"After 2008, it was the first grand slam win, and now six titles later and, you know, eight years later it's truly incredible to see all the years that went by and how good I play in Australia each year so this serves as a great confidence booster, great wind in the back for the rest of the season," Djokovic told reporters on Monday.
The Serbian, who secured his maiden grand slam at Melbourne Park back in 2008, said, while special, every grand slam title has its own unique feeling. "Of course it does, every title feels different, especially the grand slams that are the most prestigious, most valuable events in our sport and the first title I won in 2008 here in Australia," he explained.
"I was here with my family, my parents, my brothers. I remember that that opened a lot of doors for me in my career. I couldn't believe that I'm a grand slam winner. When you're a grand slam winner things change in your life and now, for the11th time, it's truly fantastic so I'm trying to obviously cherish every moment of it, nurture it and hopefully use it as a motivation for further challenges."
Although world number two Murray battled hard after losing the opening five games in the blink of an eye, the dominant manner of Sunday's 6-1 7-5 7-6(3) victory vindicated Djokovic's opinion that he was at the zenith of his powers. He won 11 titles including three of the four majors last year and already has a 12-0 record this season, having thrashed the other members of the "Big Four" – Rafael Nadal, Federer and Murray – to win in Doha and Melbourne.
He has won four of the last five slams, 38 of his last 39 matches, and at this rate Roger Federer's record 17 is within range for the 28-year-old. Now only six slam wins shy of Federer, Djokovic was asked if he has a desire to eventually become the greatest player in history.
"I need to be honest and say that it is in the back of my mind and it serves as an encouraging factor, a goal, a motivation, an incentive for the challenges and for the next period in my career. Obviously, being 28 and being at the peak of my abilities I feel like I can achieve much more," he said.
How far I can go I don't know. It's an individual sport so a lot can happen and everything depends on you so I hope that I'm able to still respect and live this kind of lifestyle that helped me to reach this point of my career and my life and I have a great support of my family and my team of people and if it stays that way I don't think anything is unreachable."
Djokovic will now turn his attention to securing a maiden French Open crown in May, the only grand slam title that currently eludes him.