It’s not often Novak Djokovic enters the BNP Paribas Open without having hoisted a trophy at this stage of the season.
Djokovic, a two-time titlist in Indian Wells (2008, ’11), is in uncharted territory in 2014, failing to reach a final before March for the first time since 2006. With losses to Stanislas Wawrinka and Roger Federer in Melbourne and Dubai, where the World No. 2 has combined for eight titles, the start of the season has been admittedly unfamiliar. Djokovic, however, is not concerned.
“It's a different feel, definitely,” said Djokovic in a press conference on Friday. “I won the Australian Open title three consecutive years and that has significantly affected the confidence level in the start of the season and all the tournaments that were following up. This year it's not the case.
“But, again, I have still a lot of confidence because I'm playing well. I'm feeling good about myself. As I said, when you work hard and when you trust your instincts and you have that self belief on the court, the results will come.
“Very few points decided the two big matches that I lost this year. Stan played a tournament of his life, and he deserved to win the Grand Slam…I recognised things that I need to work on, not just game-wise, but also mentally the way that I approach certain moments in the match. Being able to recognise that is already halfway to solving it, and I’m working on it.”
Djokovic is looking to rediscover the form that made him the seventh different player to execute the March sweep of ATP World Tour Masters 1000 events in Indian Wells and Miami.
“Indian Wells and Miami is where I want to reach the peak of my performance, and I want to try to get as far as I can and have a good season.”
The Belgrade native also commented on the state of his relationship with new coach Boris Becker. Despite being reunited with now part-time coach Marian Vajda in Indian Wells, he is seeking his first title under the tutelage of Becker.
“I’m working with Boris Becker and so far it’s just the beginning of our relationship,” Djokovic said. “It takes a little bit of time for us to understand what is the best way to work (together) and for him to understand how I am as a player and as a person. We have been improving. We have been talking a lot. We have been working on the court. I’m confident that this relationship can bring us success.”
Djokovic opens his doubles campaign with countryman Filip Krajinovic on Saturday, in what should be a highly entertaining affair against Ernests Gulbis and Milos Raonic. His singles quest gets underway on Sunday with a second round match-up against Victor Hanescu. Djokovic leads the FedEx ATP Head2Head series 6-0, with the most recent meeting having come at Roland Garros in 2011.