NEW YORK (Agencies) - As the US Open approaches, the tennis world is focusing on Novak Djokovic and his remarkable seasonand rightly so, according to the man he replaced at No. 1, Rafael Nadal. He deserves it, Nadal said in an interview after attending the tournament draw. Nadal completed a career Grand Slam by beating Djokovic in the final at Flushing Meadows a year ago. That gave Nadal three consecutive major championships, and nine overall, and prompted a lot of talk about how the Spaniard had supplanted Roger Federer as the sports dominant figure. With the years last Grand Slam tournament set to start Monday, its Djokovic who is 57-2 in 2011 with nine titles, including at the Australian Open and Wimbledon. What impresses Nadal the most is the Serbs ability to keep consistently strong of mind, tournament after tournament after tournament precisely the sort of trait that others often praise the Spaniard for. Hes doing something really difficult to repeat, no? Hes doing well and playing fantastic tennis almost all the time. And the mental part, hes doing really well this year. Its tough to be there every week, and hes doing that, Nadal said. The only thing I can do is congratulate him. Hes found himself offering Djokovic congratulations quite a bit this season. Nadal is 0-5 this year against Djokovic, with each of those head-to-head matches coming in tournament finals, four on the Spaniards beloved red clay, and the other on grass at Wimbledon last month. After that most recent encounter, Djokovic moved up from No. 2 to overtake Nadal in the ATP rankings. After their title match at the All England Club, Nadal acknowledged that hes got a mental block against Djokovic. I think it was pretty shocking to him when he didnt win it. He was the one who sort of blinked, seven-time major champion John McEnroe said. He just sort of lost his edge at the wrong time, and he did look like Novak had gotten into his head the way Rafa had gotten into Rogers head. Still, Nadal says he isnt taking any particular steps in his preparation to try to overcome Djokovic should they meet again for the U.S. Open title. I work for myself. I dont think about the others. I think about what I have to do myself to improve, not to (beat) the others, Nadal explained. All my life, I did like this, and it worked well, and thats what Im doing all the timetry to keep improving. A year ago, heading into the U.S. Open, the left-hander slightly altered the way he gripped his racket for his serves, and it was enough of an adjustment to add a few miles per hour to his delivery. That adjustment, and a generally more aggressive approach to serving, gave Nadal enough of a boost to an already rather complete game that he came within one lost set of becoming the first man in a half-century to win the U.S. Open without dropping any sets. And he says that as long as hes OK physically, he likes his chances of a repeat title. If I am playing well, and Im healthy, experience tells me I am competitive with everybody. So why not here another time? Why shouldnt I think I can be really competitive here another time? Nadal said. I need to find my best level. And hopefully Ill be in good shape next week. Novak Djokovic was the only player to win a set from Rafael Nadal in the tournament, but eventually Nadal wore him down. Nadals body ran into a bit of trouble this summerand so did his game. First, he hurt his left foot during a match at Wimbledon, which forced him to take some time away from the courts afterward. When he returned, he lost his opening match at the Montreal Masters. Then, last week at the Cincinnati Masters, he exited in the quarterfinals, after developing blisters on his left foot and somehow managing to burn two fingers on his right handwhich he uses for his two-fisted backhandon a hot ceramic plate at a restaurant. But he showed off his healthy fingers Thursday, wiggling them to show theyre no longer burdened by blisters, and pronounced himself fit. Im practicing well this weekbetter than what I did in Montreal and Cincinnati. Ill try my best, and well see what happens, Nadal said. And he pointed out that he returns to the U.S. Open with the knowledge that he is capable of winning this tournament. He never could say that in the past, of course. Always, when youve played well one time in a place, and you come back, you believe you can do it another time. Thats logical, no? Nadal said. Even when I didnt win here, there was a lot of motivationits a Grand Slam, its the last one of the year, its New York. There are a lot of things that make this tournament special. This year, the goal is the same as every year, but the emotions are different, because I have a fantastic memory from last years tournament.