Wimbledon, Jun 24 : The little gray varmint in Novak Djokovic's backyard at Wimbledon is no nuisance to the second-seeded Serb.
Djokovic, who reached the third round at the All England Club with a 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 win over Kevin Anderson, put a picture of his new buddy on Twitter before taking the court Thursday.
“It's my best friend now in London, the little squirrel,” Djokovic said. “She's getting closer and closer each day. I'm trying to feed her from my hand. Maybe one day.”
As long as the foraging rodent doesn't bite the hand that wants to feed it, Djokovic will remain one of the favorites at this year's tournament.
The Australian Open champion has never reached the final at Wimbledon, twice losing in the semifinals, but if he makes it to the deciding match this year he will guarantee himself the No. 1 ranking.
To get there, though, he may have to beat six-time champion Roger Federer in the semifinals.
At the French Open this month, Djokovic was the man to beat, and Federer was the man to beat him. The 2009 champion ended Djokovic's 43-match winning streak and perfect season in the semifinals at Roland Garros.
“I don't know what I can say that nobody said before for him. I mean, he's a great champion,” Djokovic said of Federer. “I think his talent is incredible on the court.
It looks so easy when he plays.”
But Djokovic has been the one making it look easy this year. And he and his new gluten-free diet arrived in southwest London with a new attitude, a new confidence, following a 41-0 record to start the season.
“Mentally, I do have a different approach to Wimbledon than I had years before. It's obvious because of the winning streak that I had, the confidence that is very high,” Djokovic said. “It makes it easier to step on the court because you believe in yourself. You know that you're one of the best players in the world and you know that you can win against anybody.”
Especially against Anderson, a 36th-ranked South African who has never been past the third round at a Grand Slam tournament.
Djokovic was broken once Thursday, but finished the match with 31 winners and only 14 unforced errors.
“Two straight-set wins. I cannot ask for more, definitely,” said Djokovic, who beat Jeremy Chardy in the first round. “And I'm physically feeling great on the court.” AP