Hungry Djokovic can make up for lost time

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When Novak Djokovic brought a frustrating 2017 season to a premature end he talked of building foundations "for the next five years or more" and the former world number one can enjoy the fruits of his labour in 2018.

The 12-time grand slam champion was a shadow of his former self this year, seemingly lacking the hunger that had made him the dominant force of the men's game.

Djokovic's steely determination and relentless will to win appeared to have diminished, his exploits in previous years clearly taking their toll on the Serbian great.

The 30-year-old retired from his Wimbledon quarter-final against Tomas Berdych in July due to an elbow injury, but in truth he looked ready for a break long before then.

A year earlier it was Roger Federer who announced that the grass court major would be his last tournament of the year and Djokovic took a leaf out of the legendary Swiss' book by ruling himself out until the following season.

Federer reaped the rewards of a lengthy absence by winning the Australian Open and went on to be crowned Wimbledon champion for an eighth title in a magnificent season for the 36-year-old.

Rafael Nadal has also made up for lost time following injury woes, returning to the top of the rankings in an outstanding year which included French Open and US Open triumphs.

Federer and Nadal undoubtedly benefited from time off court to add to their huge list of honours and there is no reason why Djokovic can't follow their lead in the not so distance future.

All the signs are that Djokovic has appetite back, with pictures from his social media accounts showing either fiercely intense practice sessions or broad smiles from one of the great champions.

Radek Stepanek joined his coaching team and additional time with Andre Agassi ought to pay dividends.

Andy Murray has also been out since Wimbledon due to a hip injury and is set to return next month, but Djokovic ought to pose the bigger threat at the first grand slam of the year in Melbourne.

Djokovic undoubtedly has more major titles in him and it would be no great surprise if he is crowned Australian Open champion for a seventh time next month.

As Federer and Nadal proved this year, you can't keep a good man down.