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Djokovic faces race against time for U.S. Open defence


Novak Djokovic (SRB) of Serbia reacts after losing his match against Juan Martin Del Potro (ARG) of Argentina. REUTERS/Toby Melville
Novak Djokovic (SRB) of Serbia reacts after losing his match against Juan Martin Del Potro (ARG) of Argentina. REUTERS/Toby Melville

By Simon Cambers

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Troubled by injury and a private matter that affected him at Wimbledon, world number one Novak Djokovic concedes that time is against him as he prepares to end his grand slam season on a high at the U.S. Open.

The Serb, aiming to win his 13th grand slam crown, is battling a left wrist injury which threatens to derail a 2016 campaign that began strongly with an Australian Open victory and saw him complete a career grand slam at the French Open in June.

After an early defeat at Wimbledon, Djokovic suffered his wrist injury before the Rio Olympics, where he was ousted in round one.

"The wrist hasn't been in ideal shape for the last three-and-a-half weeks but I'm doing everything in my power to make sure I'm as close to 100 percent as possible during the course of this tournament, at least for the beginning of it," Djokovic told reporters at Flushing Meadows on Friday.

"Sometimes time is what you need as an athlete and because the U.S. Open is around the corner I don't have too much time."

Djokovic disclosed that he had been having "electricity treatments" for the injury, which mainly affects his backhand.

"I've gotten better," he said. "I'm just hoping that Monday, when the tournament starts, I'll be able to get close to the maximum of executing my backhand shot as possible."

After he was beaten in the third round at Wimbledon by American Sam Querrey, Djokovic said he was "not really" 100 percent. On Friday, he described it as a personal issue.

"It was nothing physical, it was not an injury," the 29-year-old Serb said. "It was some other things that I was going through privately. But it was nothing linked to the wrist injury I got in Rio.

"We all have private issues and things that are more challenges than issues, things we have to encounter and overcome in order to evolve as a human being. That was the period for me. Was resolved and life is going on like everything else."

Djokovic launches his U.S. Open title bid with a match against towering Jerzy Janowicz of Poland and the 2011 and 2015 champion feels capable of a big run at Flushing Meadows.

"The third-round loss at Wimbledon to Sam allowed me to take some time and really regroup and think about what was achieved with the French Open," the Serb said.

"It gave me so much but it took a lot out of me as well. I really went all the way until the end in every sense of my being. After that, it took a bit of time for me to get centred again.

"I know that there is a little room still for me to get better physically. Hopefully that's going to be the case next couple days. Then, when the tournament starts, all the doors are open."

(Editing by Mark Lamport-Stokes)

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