US Open: Djokovic targets historic season, eyes McEnroe mark

Updated: 31 August 2011 15:35 IST

Novak Djokovic will ignore talk of super diets and even a bizarre flirtation with a hyperbaric chamber, convinced that he can match John McEnroe's 1984 record of 82 wins against just three defeats.

US Open: Djokovic targets historic season, eyes McEnroe mark
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New York:

Novak Djokovic will ignore talk of super diets and even a bizarre flirtation with a hyperbaric chamber, convinced that he can match John McEnroe's 1984 record of 82 wins against just three defeats.

The world number one took his season tally to 58 wins against just two losses when Irish qualifier Conor Niland's thankless task was rendered mission impossible by food poisoning in the US Open first round on Tuesday.

Djokovic, whose only losses in 2011 came against Roger Federer in the French Open semi-finals and in the Cincinnati Masters final when a right shoulder injury handed Andy Murray victory, knows that history is within his grasp.

"Sounds big," said the 24-year-old. "This year has been tremendous and there has been a lot of talk about history making and this incredible run."

Djokovic has won nine titles this year including the Australian Open and Wimbledon crowns, taking Rafael Nadal's top ranking in the process.

Twice a runner-up at the US Open, including last year to Nadal, the Serb is looking to become just the sixth man to win three Grand Slam titles in the same year in the Open era.

He is already the first man to win five Masters events in the same year after defeating Mardy Fish in the final at Montreal.

His other Masters titles came at Indian Wells, Miami, Madrid and Rome, defeating Nadal on all four occasions.

Furthermore, his 43-match winning streak, which stretched from Serbia's Davis Cup triumph in December to his loss to Federer in Paris in June, was the third longest in history, just three behind Guillermo Vilas's all-time mark.

"After I won Wimbledon I took some time off and I got to think about everything that I've been through," said Djokovic.

"And to be honest with you, I even have more motivation to play and to win more Grand Slams, now more than ever that I know that I can actually perform equally well on any surface."

Much has been made of Djokovic's surge to the top of the world after giving up bread and pasta after developing an allergy to gluten.

But he refuses to reveal what he eats instead and has shown a similar reluctance to expand upon his use of a hyberbaric chamber.

"I have used it a couple of times just to test it and see how it is, and since then I haven't used it at all this year. It doesn't have any influence on my success that I had in last 10 months," said the Serb.

"There is nothing controversial. As I was aware, many successful athletes have been using that in the past."

Djokovic needed just 44 minutes to claim a 6-0, 5-1 victory over Niland on Tuesday.

Niland, the world 197 and making his Flushing Meadows debut, had suffered food poisoning since Monday.

He would have felt even worse when he was broken three times in the opening set which lasted just 21 minutes and where he won only eight points.

The 29-year-old Irishman received medical attention at the changeover but he was quickly a game down in the second set.

He then won applause from a sympathetic crowd when he finally opened his account for 1-1.

But Djokovic restored the balance of power by racing into a 4-1 lead.

One game later, Djokovic was able to celebrate victory when the stricken Niland, having won just 14 points in the tie, called it quits.

Niland said he had felt unwell since Monday morning.

"We're saying maybe a salad or a pork dish, but we're not naming the restaurant," he said.

"I haven't been able to keep anything down. That's why there was no strength in my legs. Believe me, it has been a tough couple of days."

Topics : Tennis US Open 2011 Novak Djokovic
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