Tennis

Djokovic's Golden Slam attempt begins

Djokovic starts his bid to rewrite the records

Consider this: Novak Djokovic is yet to drop a set this year and his performance in the recent Qatar Open final was described as "perfect" by his flummoxed opponent, Rafael Nadal.

Djokovic, who has five Australian Open titles, has lost only once in the last five years at Melbourne Park, where he was stopped by Stan Wawrinka in the 2014 quarter-finals.

The Serb, 28, will look to extend his sensational run at the Open as expectations soar about what he could achieve this year.

As the 2015 season closed, it was only the rapier backhand of Wawrinka in the French Open final that stopped Djokovic compiling the first men's calendar-year Grand Slam since Rod Laver in 1969.

The world No. 1 also became the first player to top 16,000 rankings points, and currently stands on 16,790 - nearly double the total of second-placed Andy Murray.

Djokovic could even pick up the first ever men's "Golden Slam'' if he manages to unite the four Major titles and be crowned Olympic champion at Rio de Janeiro in August.

He opens his Grand Slam season against South Korea's Chung Hyeon today and is already having to play down his chances of what could be a historic year.

"It's only the beginning of the season. It's too early to talk about what I can or can't do later in the season.

"I'm here to focus on the Australian Open," he told reporters in Melbourne.

"If I am able to do the same or better, like 2015, I'm not sure.

"Honestly, as I said, it's just the beginning. I try to take one tournament at a time."

So what could work against him?

One drawback could be Melbourne's intense heat, with the temperature forecast at 37 degrees Celsius today and maybe even higher in the coming days.

Djokovic retired with "heat illness" during his 2009 Australian Open quarter-final against Andy Roddick, but he has steeled himself physically and outlasted Nadal in the 2012 final which ran for nearly six hours.

"Sometimes it's very difficult to handle (the conditions) if it goes over 40 degrees," Djokovic said.

"Again, you're not the only one on the court. There's an opponent across the net. He is, of course, handling it as tough as you are handling it.

"You got to keep that in your mind and try to be tough.

"Whatever is coming our way, I'll try to be ready for it."

Roger Federer is also in action on day one, against Georgia's Nikoloz Basilashvili, with Djokovic's other main challengers Murray and Wawrinka starting tomorrow.

- Wire Services.

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