Despite losing his first game of the year on Friday, a clearly frustrated six-time Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic said his Grand Slam target for later this month was ‘a trophy’.
Asked, after his defeat to Roberto Bautista Agut in the Qatar Open semi-final, if he would reassess his chances of a 15th major title, the world number one said tersely that he a single aim in Melbourne: “A trophy.”
In a tense exchange with one reporter, he was then asked: “Even after this week?”
A rattled Djokovic, who smashed a racquet on his way to his last four defeat in Doha, responded: “Why, do you think after this week I don’t deserve to be contender for trophy?
“You said even after this week. I don’t understand that comment.
He added: “You asked me what my goal is and it’s a trophy. Thank you.”
The Serb won his last Australian Open in 2016, beating Britain’s Andy Murray in straight sets.
The next year, he was surprisingly beaten in the second round by Uzbekistan’s Denis Istomin, his earliest exit in a Grand Slam for almost a decade.
Last year, returning to action following six months off because of injury he made it through to the fourth round before losing to Korea’s Chung Hyeon