MELBOURNE Park has been inundated by a flood of stars ahead of Monday’s start to the Australian Open.
Djokovic and Rafael Nadal are expected to join the throng on Tuesday as Open officials brace for huge crowds next week, with qualifying scheduled to start tomorrow. Offering an unprecedented $40 million prizemoney, the Australian Open will reward the singles champions with $3.1 million each, while first-round losers will depart with $34,500.
For reasons other than money, Djokovic returns to Melbourne Park seeking yet another slice of Open glory.
Determined to confirm his status as the world’s best player by triumphing again at the Australian Open, Djokovic will become the most successful male at the tournament in the Open era (since 1968) if he lands a fifth Norman Brookes Challenge Cup.
The Serb flew in from Doha, where he suffered only his second defeat in 23 matches since the US Open with a quarter-final loss to Ivo Karlovic.
Accompanied by his wife Jelena, baby son Stefan and his coaching team, world champion Djokovic is chasing an eighth major.
Currently in equal second place on the tournament honour roll with a swag of the sport’s most illustrious names behind Roy Emerson (six), Djokovic is one of only three players to have claimed four Australian crowns since the advent of Open tennis.
Andre Agassi and current world No. 2 and grand slam record-holder Roger Federer are the others.
Jack Crawford (all as an amateur) and Ken Rosewall (two as an amateur, two as a professional) also have four titles.
Queenslander Emerson won his half-dozen as the world’s premier amateur player.
Nadal was scheduled to arrive from Qatar late on Monday night.