Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 31 January 2015

Djokovic flies home to visit sick father

LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 12: Novak Djokovic of Serbia celebrates match point during his men's singles final match against Roger Federer of Switzerland during day eight of the ATP World Tour Finals at O2 Arena on November 12, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

The season is over for Novak Djokovic but the globe-trotting goes on. The new Barclays ATP World Tour Finals champion was flying to visit his sick father yesterday before heading for Bratislava to play in an exhibition match tomorrow against Slovakia's Martin Klizan. Later in the week he will travel to Rio de Janeiro, where he will play another exhibition match, against the former French Open champion Gustavo Kuerten, as well as a football match alongside some Brazilian legends.

Only then will the 25-year-old Serb take a holiday "in a very tropical, very beautiful place, with no racket, no nothing, no tennis, just trying to recharge my batteries".

Djokovic finished his season in remarkable fashion, beating Roger Federer 7-6, 7-5 in a thrilling final at London's O2 Arena on Monday night despite continuing concerns about his father, Srdjan, who has been suffering from what is thought to be an acute respiratory illness. Last week, a Serbian source claimed that Srdjan had been flown from Belgrade to a hospital in Germany.

"Having my father fighting his own fight for health gave me extra strength that I wanted to play for him in a way," the world No 1 said after his victory over Federer. "That's one of the reasons I really gave it all in every match. This was a title for him. At a certain stage, it was very critical. We didn't know what the next day would bring. But now he's much better and he's recovering. He's still in intensive care. I'm going to visit him tomorrow and see how it goes and try to bring the trophy with me and at least make him smile."

While Djokovic has not matched 2011, when he won three Grand Slam tournaments and seven other titles, he regards what he has done this year as an even greater achievement. Having lost the world No 1 position to Federer in the summer, he regained it earlier this month and finished top of the rankings for a second year in succession.

"I actually feel even more satisfied right now than last year, even though I had an incredible 2011," he said. "Considering the circumstances that I had to face on and off the court, the expectations, all these things, I believe that this year has been even more successful for me."

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