NOVAK DJOKOVIC used to be almost as well-known for his impersonations of other players as he was for his game. Roger Federer, Maria Sharapova, Rafael Nadal: name the player and he'd provide the parody.
The world No.1 has put the impressions away since becoming a more serious, more dedicated and more successful player, but he was so relaxed after his Thursday night semi-final that he headed back onto centre court an hour afterwards, dressed in a doctor's outfit, and tended to an ''injured'' Henri Leconte during a light-hearted legends doubles match.
''I gave a treatment to Leconte. The diagnosis, we determined with my assistant, is that he's definitely crazy,'' Djokovic said later in his news conference . ''He needs long-term treatment.''
It took Djokovic just 89 minutes to dispose of David Ferrer, the tournament's No.4 player, and he planned to spend Friday night in front of his hotel TV set, first of all appreciating what he was sure would be a close battle between Federer and Andy Murray, but more importantly devising the tactics he would use to take on a player he has come up against many times before.
He seemed to surprise himself with how well he played against Ferrer, describing the match as one of his best ever, and was already feeling rested for what he suspected would be a more demanding final. His toughest match - a long, five-set win over Stanislas Wawrinka in the fourth round - will be almost a week behind him by the time he plays again on Sunday night.
''I have a great feeling about myself on the court at this moment. Now I have two days off before the finals which gives me enough time to get ready … and recover for the finals,'' Djokovic said. ''I definitely prefer being fitter for the final and having a little bit more time than I had in 2012. It's quite different circumstances that I have to face this time.
''Last year I played five hours in the semis and had only a day-and-a-half to recover for another six hours with Nadal. This year it hasn't been the case, and I'm very glad. I was pushed to the limit in the fourth round, had some really physically tough matches in this tournament, and I'm glad that I went through it.''
A win on Sunday night will earn Djokovic a third Australian Open title in a row, and his fourth in all. He kept hold of the No.1 spot last year despite not winning another major title. Finishing runner-up in Paris and New York taught him just as much about the ''small margins and small details'' that decide a grand slam tournament.
''This two-day break definitely serves me well, you know, physically, mentally, emotionally, so I can get all my strength for that final. I'm going to be expecting I have to be ready [for] a five-hour match or five sets,'' he said.
''That's the kind of approach that I have to every single match that I play on grand slams, especially in the second week. No other thoughts than that one. And of course I'm going to try to go out on the court and win, whoever I have across the net.''