Wimbledon - Djokovic: Nadal is my example
Newly-crowned Wimbledon champion and world number one Novak Djokovic will take a leaf out of Rafael Nadal's book as he plans to make his domination of men's tennis a prolonged one.
The 24-year-old Serb had a spring in his step as returned to a sunny All England Club on Monday to say his goodbyes before jetting home to Belgrade to bask in the glory of his 6-4 6-1 1-6 6-3 victory over Nadal in the previous day's final.
Just one defeat in 49 matches this year, eight titles including the Australian Open and Wimbledon and then becoming the first player other than Roger Federer or Nadal to top the ATP rankings since January 2004, it is hard to imagine how things could get much better for Djokovic.
The Belgrade native is already setting his sights even higher though.
"I want to improve," Djokovic told a small group of reporters after being presented with a cake decorated in Serbian red, white and blue on the Wimbledon players' lawn.
"The example for me is Nadal. A few years ago we all knew how dominant he was on clay but maybe not so much on the other surfaces. Nobody thought he could get any better but he did.
"Me too, I still consider myself as a player with something to prove and to improve my game."
Djokovic, who effectively ended Nadal's 56-week stay as world number one on Friday when he beat Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the semi-finals, was officially unveiled as the 25th player to top the rankings when the ATP published its list on Monday.
While proud of his new status, Djokovic said the tough work was about to begin.
"I've never been number one in the world so I don't really know what it feels like yet," he said. "But I'm going to experience that in this next period of my career.
"They say it's harder to stay number one than to get to number one. I will see if that's true or not but I will definitely try to stay there as long as I can."
After going 41 matches unbeaten from the start of the season, some were waiting for the amiable Serb to suffer an inevitable dip after Federer snapped his winning streak in the French open semi-finals.
However, his response has been overwhelmingly positive and according to Djokovic, that is down to his new-found maturity.
"I'm proud of many things but after having the incredible year and the incredible run to then lose at Roland Garros in really an epic semi-final to Federer, a great match, I'm really proud of how I recovered from that," he said.
"I managed to come back in great style and win Wimbledon in a great way and that's something I maybe wasn't managing to do in the past. Now I'm able to mentally switch off and recover quickly."
Djokovic is expected to be welcomed home by thousands in the Serbian capital later on Monday but the real party, and a chance to savour his exploits, will have to wait until after Davis Cup duty in Sweden this weekend.
"It's a bit early to realise what I've done," he said. "I'm still euphoric, I'm still having the adrenaline rush and in the great joy of winning Wimbledon and having a great season so far.
"I have Davis Cup coming up this weekend then after that I have two weeks of rest. I will go down to the beach, leave my rackets in the room and close my eyes under the sun and then I might reflect on everything that has happened."
After that it will be back to work.
"For now the goal is to (have) some time for myself and enjoy the victory. Then I want to come back and win more titles, more majors. I'm a professional and that is what I'm made for. The U.S. Open is the next big thing.
"Hardcourts are still my best surface."