Novak Djokovic is planning on being back at the top of tennis by the middle of next year, although he won’t complain if he achieves his target earlier.
The 12-time Grand Slam champion ended his 2017 prematurely due to an elbow problem, which forced him to retire from Wimbledon at the quarter-final stage.
It proved to be a difficult year for the Serb, who was unable to defend his Australian Open and French Open crowns, while also parting ways with his long-term coaching staff.
Djokovic is set to step-up his recovery in the coming weeks and admitted he has missed playing tennis and he is still as motivated as ever to compete at the top of the sport.
And he is confident he will fight for majors again, although he warned it may not all click immediately upon his return.
‘I can’t wait to play again, I miss my tennis racquet,’ he told Novosti.
‘I can’t wait to go back to the top again. But I don’t think I’m going to be able to make up for all the missed games and get back there straightaway.
‘I’m going to take step by step. I believe that I will get there in the mid of next year, but I won’t complain if I get in shape somewhat earlier.’
Djokovic admitted he had been inspired by Federer and Nadal’s own returns, which saw them share all four Grand Slams between them in 2017.
The Serb also pointed out that he was the only member of the ‘Big Four’ who had not taken any form of break during his time at the top of tennis, and suggested that he perhaps should have made the move earlier.
‘Federer and Nadal are in many ways unique, among the best players in the history of the sport, people who have influenced me to become what I am,’ he added.
‘Their examples show that you can return to the top even after a break and a season in which their game was not at its best level.
‘And I would like to remind you that I was the only player from the top that never took a break, and from this perspective, I think I should have done it right after the 2016 Roland Garros.’