PARIS, France – Novak Djokovic believes he can become only the third man in history to hold all four majors at the same time in 2013 having come so agonizingly close last season.
The world number one missed out on joining Don Budge (1938) and Rod Laver (1962 and 1969) as just the third man to simultaneously possess the Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and US Open titles when he was beaten by Rafael Nadal at Roland Garros.
Having finished number one in the world for the second successive season, the 26-year-old Serb goes into the new campaign, which gets underway officially next week, with his confidence high.
“I won the last big tournament of the year in London (the ATP World Tour Finals) and I am hoping that I can continue playing well,” said Djokovic.
“So my ambitions are always high. I want to win every Grand Slam that I play.”
The five-time major winner added: “Roland Garros is always at the top of my priority list and ambitions. It’s the only slam I haven’t won. I played in the final, which is a step further than ever before.”
Djokovic won the Australian Open in 2012, was runner-up to Nadal at the French while also losing a five-set US Open final to Andy Murray. He was a semi-final loser to Roger Federer at Wimbledon.
In New York and London he had been defending champion.
Federer captured a 17th major when he claimed a record-equalling seventh Wimbledon, coming from a set down to defeat a tearful Murray.
With his 32nd birthday coming in August, the great Swiss has already slashed his schedule for the new year, intending to play just 13 events.
He will go into a 14th Australian Open next month — a tournament he has won four times — not having played a warm-up competition.
World number three Murray became the first British man since 1936 to win a major when he defeated Djokovic to clinch the US Open, with his triumph coming in the slipstream of his Olympic Games gold medal.
“In the last three, four or five years there has been significant pressure in my mind and I feel more relaxed and more relieved after winning the US Open,” said the 25-year-old.
“So I think from my side I hope to take pressure off myself and will be able to play a little bit more relaxed and hope to repeat my Grand Slam win.”
Nadal, the 11-time major winner, will be the unknown quantity having been out of action since his shock second round defeat at Wimbledon to world number 100 Lukas Rosol in June.
He will make his comeback in Doha next week but only expects to be at full fitness once the US hardcourt and European claycourt seasons come around.
“My goal is not Doha or the Australian Open. My goal is to get fit, recover all my feelings. The only thing I care about is the knee,” said the seven-time French Open champion, who has battled a series of knee injuries throughout his career.
“My real goal is to start in perfect condition at Indian Wells and Miami and reach Monte-Carlo with good feelings, to face the clay season in good condition.”
In 2012, Serena Williams was the player of the year on the WTA Tour, with the veteran American overcoming her worst ever Grand Slam performance — a first round defeat at the French Open — to win Wimbledon, the Olympics, US Open and then the end-of-season WTA Championships title.
“I definitely think I can improve some more,” said Williams, who now has 15 Grand Slam singles titles.
That’s just three off the 18 collected by Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert, with only Steffi Graf’s record of 22 looking potentially out of reach.
Williams, who will be 32 in 2013, starts her season in Brisbane as does world number two and French Open champion Maria Sharapova, and the world’s top player, Victoria Azarenka.
Williams has undergone toe surgery while Sharapova pulled out of an exhibition in Seoul last week with a neck injury.
Australian Open champion Azarenka, however, was sunning herself in Thailand before heading for Brisbane.
The 2013 season has already started with Djokovic and Murray taking part in a three-day exhibition tournament in Abu Dhabi.
On Saturday, the Hopman Cup gets underway in Perth, while Doha, Chennai and Brisbane all host ATP events at the start of next week and the WTA kicks off in Brisbane, Auckland and Shenzhen.
The first Grand Slam event of 2013, the Australian Open, gets underway on January 14. – Rappler.com