TENNIS - ATP

Djokovic blames new racquet for worrying form

Serbia's Novak Djokovic has blamed his new racquet for his worrying form in the opening round of the Brisbane International earlier this week, in the lead-up to his Australian Open title defence.

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AFP - Serbia's Novak Djokovic has blamed his new racquet for his worrying form with just over a week to go before he begins his Australian Open title defence.

The world number three was forced into an unscheduled stop-off in Sydney on his way to the year's opening grand slam in Melbourne when he crashed out to Latvian Ernests Gulbis in the opening round of the Brisbane International on Tuesday.

Djokovic, 21, immediately sought a berth in the Sydney tournament for extra matches.

Djokovic on Saturday admitted his decision to spend New Year's Eve in Belgrade, rather than honing his game in Australia, may have been the wrong one.

"I wasn't supposed to play here but I decided to play here because of the lack of the matches prior to the Australian Open and I think I need some more official matches so I can get into the rhythm," Djokovic told reporters.

Djokovic said he had no choice but to accept a wildcard into Sydney to further familiarise himself with his new racquet.

"I went from Wilson (racquet), which I played with for the last three years, to Head and there's a lot of mental involvement obviously if you make a big change and it takes some time," he said.

"Of course, you have to hit a lot of balls and you just have to feel comfortable.

"I didn't feel in Brisbane comfortable with the racquet and with the circumstances, but it's going to be better."

His loss to Gulbis was the only time he has used his Head racquet in competition.

Djokovic said he prefers to take the week before a grand slam tournament off.

"I usually try to keep the week before any grand slam (free) because I want to prepare and I want to save as much energy as I can," Djokovic said.

"Because you're playing the best-of-five sets and it's not easy under the difficult conditions, under the big heat.

"But, as I've had a lack of the matches and I have made some major changes with the racquet, I need to get some more matches under my belt so I can feel comfortable."

As top seed in Sydney, Djokovic has a first-round bye and will open his campaign on Tuesday against either Italy's Andreas Seppi or Paul-Henri Mathieu of France.

French second seed Gilles Simon also has an opening bye before facing either Russian defending champion Dmitry Tursunov or compatriot Richard Gasquet in the second round.
 

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