New York: Marriage and preparations for the birth of his first child left Novak Djokovic "a little flat" on the tennis court of late -- where better to turn things around than at the US Open.
"I have high expectations for myself, I always have," said Djokovic, the 2011 US Open champion who captured a seventh Grand Slam crown at Wimbledon in July.
He was still celebrating that title when he married longtime girlfriend Jelena Ristic, and the couple are expecting their first child in less than two months.
Djokovic, 27, insisted he isn't discouraged by back-to-back third-round exits in Masters series tournaments at Toronto and Cincinnati in the build-up to the final Grand Slam of the year.
"I'm feeling better and better as the days go by," Djokovic said Saturday at Flushing Meadows, where the tournament kicks off on Monday.
The world number one has made the usual pre-tournament rounds in New York City, addressing media at Randall's Island this week and appearing on David Letterman's late night chat show.
Djokovic is an old hand at such obligations, but he's still finding his way when it comes to balancing family life and tennis.
"Obviously I want to peak with my form in the US Open. Yes, I wanted to do better in Canada and Cincinnati. Unfortunately, I wasn't even close to my best," he said.
"But, you know, a lot of things happened in the last two months, and it was a very emotional period. I just felt a little bit flat on the court.
"I wasn't managing to find that intensity and the perfect mindset."
Djokovic said he'd been talking to others, including coach Boris Becker, about managing his game through such transitions.
"Without a doubt, life changes," Djokovic said. "Priorities change. My priorities -- my family, my wife, my future kid -- tennis is definitely not number one anymore."
If Djokovic wants a current example of a player who makes parenthood on the pro tennis circuit work, he need look no further than Roger Federer.
Federer, father of two sets of twins, is enjoying a career resurgence that has many tipping him to be lifting an 18th Grand Slam trophy in two weeks.
- A great spell -
Federer said he didn't know if he had any specific advice to offer Djokovic, except to enjoy it all.
"I think he must be quite excited about what's going to happen soon," Federer said. "And with the wedding and everything -- he's going through a great spell at the moment, with winning Wimbledon on top of it.
"But I think he's got to figure it out himself really. But the good thing, he sees me with four (children), so with one it should be a piece of cake."
Overall Djokovic believes happiness in his personal life can translate into better tennis, even as family gains importance.
He's determined to make the most of his talent and fitness while he can, and eager to add a second title at a tournament where he has finished runner-up four times, in 2007, 2010, 2012 and 2013.
"Especially at this stage of my career, where I feel like now is the time that I'm at my peak physical strength, I want to use this time of my career as much as I can to win as many matches as possible," he said.
"This is the last Grand Slam of the year, and this is where you want to play your best."
Story first published on: Sunday, 24 August 2014 08:17 IST