Abu Dhabi: Any notions that fatherhood and the pressure of trying to win a maiden French Open title in the new season are weighing heavily on Novak Djokovic were emphatically rejected by the world number one on Thursday.
Djokovic’s wife Jelena gave birth to their first child, Stefan, in October and the Serb was the picture of pride and blissful contentment at being a new parent at a press conference ahead of the Mubadala World Tennis Championship on Thursday.
The 27-year-old said the ‘incomparable’ and ‘deeply fulfilling’ experience and his quest to claim the only Grand Slam to elude him at Roland Garros in June are sources of ‘positive energy’ rather than stressful distractions.
Speaking ahead of the launch of his Abu Dhabi title defence, which begins on Friday at Zayed Sports City Tennis Stadium, Djokovic said: “How has fatherhood changed me? It’s definitely given me a larger dimension and perspective on life and has deeply fulfilled me.
“I’ve had some very joyful moments in my life so far, but nothing can really compare to becoming a parent. I’m really blessed to have this opportunity to become a parent and I try to enjoy every moment. It’s not easy work, but I find it as a source of positive energy and love — pure love.”
He added: “I don’t look it as a commitment or obligation or something I have to do. It’s just something that comes naturally as a parent.
“It’s not going to affect me. In the last two tournaments of the year, I performed very, very well and I am just trying to build on that. It’s going to require a little bit more organisation and more people travelling and more overweight bags.
“But generally it’s very positive. You wake up a few times at night, but there are worse things in life.”
The seven-time Grand Slam champion was similarly relaxed and optimistic about the prospect of triumphing on the Paris clay later this year.
“You could say that it’s going to add pressure to me and I could be stressed about achieving that goal,” he said. “But I rather like to use the more positive source of that energy. I find it an inspirational and motivational goal of winning a Grand Slam or being number one in the world.
“It’s something that drives me to keep on practising and keep on working hard, even though you feel tension and pressure at Grand Slams. But from the very early stages of my career, I have been trying to be confident and set up a high goal. I still feel physically very fit and strong.”