N. DJOKOVIC/B. Tomic 76, 61
An interview with:NOVAK DJOKOVIC
Q. We asked Bernard if he ever played a better set that he didn’t win. What did you make of it from the start?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, it was a very good first set. High quality tennis from both of us. Especially Bernard played some smart tennis, stepping in every shorter ball, serving very accurately. Yeah, I mean, he pushed me. Went down to a couple points decided the first set in the tiebreak.
Obviously was a huge relief for me to win the first set, and started off the second with a break. That gave me more confidence. I think I played a very, very good second set.
Q. Have you known he’s had that talent all along? Is that something you’ll see more of, as well?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, he’s been quite consistent this year. He deserves to be top 20 I think with his qualities. He’s a player that possesses a lot of talent and potential. There’s a lot of expectations from him from Australia and all over the world for five, six years already he’s playing on the tour. But he hasn’t been able to really be consistent throughout the year. He’s been playing well regularly in Australia, maybe grass courts, but other than that he wasn’t really at his height.
I think the difference this year is he’s a little bit more professional. He’s working a bit harder. It’s paying off. I wish him all the best. I’m good friends with him off the court. We practice quite a lot.
I think he’s on the right way. He just needs to commit more. He understands now that the more he works, the better it is for him. Hopefully he’s going to be even better in the future.
Q. Sorry to ask something not about the match. You posted today in Weibo you played video games with your team. Do you think you are the top one in the ATP players video games?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: No, no, no. I’m far, far the worst. I don’t play much. Last time I played video games was here last year. We have that in the players lounge.
I played a little bit with my coaches who took the video console for the first time ever in their lives in their hands. You can imagine us playing that football video game. It was just for fun. It was more for shouting at each other, entertainment, than really playing seriously.
Q. In your rest what do you do? Play games? Read books?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I look at the ceiling (smiling).
I spend a lot of time with my family whenever they’re with me. Yeah, I like to read. I like to listen to music. Just spend time with my team and the people that I care about. I like other sports, of course.
There’s many things to do. It’s just that sometimes time doesn’t allow you.
Q. Looking ahead to your next game in which you will face either Andy Murray or Tomas Berdych, how do you like the odds against each of them?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I have positive score against both of the guys. I’ve played many timed against both of them. As a matter of fact, I’ve played against both players here in Shanghai couple of times. I know what to expect.
I think the matchup between those two guys tonight is going to be interesting. Both of them, they’re baseline players. Berdych has maybe a slightly better serve and more powerful game from the baseline.
Andy has more options, more variety in his game. He’s been on the top of the men’s game for so many years, a Grand Slam winner, Olympic gold medalist, somebody that understands how to play on a big occasion.
I don’t see myself as a clear favorite tomorrow, whoever I play against. Again, I’ll try to use the confidence and the kind of comfortable optimistic approach that I had to all the matches in these couple weeks in tomorrow’s match will hopefully help me.
Q. You know Tomas and Andy so well. Are you watching them play or expecting something new when you step up on the court against them?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Certainly I do watch them play. I will watch this match. Probably not watch entire match, but as much as I can. My team will do, too, analyze my next opponent.
Regardless of the fact that I’ve played them so many times, again, you want to see what kind of form they are in prior to the matchup against me.
We’ll do our job, and hopefully we can prepare ourselves well.
Q. Throughout the end of the season, most of the players are getting exhausted, especially top players, physically and mentally. You already qualified for London. You will end this season No. 1. What keeps you running at this high level at this moment?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: This is probably the fifth time I’m answering this question this two weeks (smiling).
I don’t allow myself to really lose the concentration or commitment to any tournament because it’s my life. I have a responsibility not just towards myself but towards the team of people that travels with me. So I accept and approach every tournament equally professionally and serious. I try to give my best anytime I’m on the court.
As No. 1 of the world, it’s another dimension of responsibility and attention that you have. You need to be able to carry yourself well ’cause everybody wants to win against you. You don’t want to lose. You want to go out on the court and fight for the wins as much as anybody else.
That’s the way I’ve been brought up. Regardless of the category of the event that I’m playing on, I’m always going to try my best. I think that kind of approach allows me to motivate myself and to stand up each day and do repetitively things that I’ve been doing for so many years. In the end I know it pays off.
Q. With Bernard, you said you noticed he’s a bit more committed this year. Knowing him so well, have you pushed him in that direction at all, given him advice? Also given that he seems to be taking that onboard, is he a potential top 10, top 5 player?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: There always has been talks about him reaching top of the men’s game. He does certainly possess that potential. But it’s a long way. It doesn’t happen overnight. You can’t just rely on your talent. We can see that.
Maybe 30 years ago you could a little bit more, get out of that talent you potentially have. But today with more physical demands required on the court from a player, it’s necessary for you to really be committed to this sport fully, work hard, just cover every aspect of your life and your career in the best possible way.
So, yes, I’ve talked with him. We practiced a lot. We talked because I’m good friends with him. Certainly I have no problem sharing with him whatever he wants to know. Any time he asks me, I try to answer, try to encourage him to work.
You can see that he’s got that in him. He just needs to improve in certain things like movement, a certain finesse in his game. He’s got very good anticipation. He’s a tall guy. He’s got very good angles on the serve.
So, yeah, the potential is there. Now it’s basically on him, how much he really wants it, how much he’s ready to commit.
Q. It was a brilliant first set by Bernard, but the second set was completely different. Do you have any idea what was happening there in the second set?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I think physically maybe he felt a bit exhausted. Last night he played three sets. He finished after midnight. Maybe that has influenced a little bit his game in the second set.
Then again, I’ve started to read his serve a little bit better, started to move him around the court. The first game of the second set was crucial, I think, making that break, allowing me to swing through the ball a little bit more, which I haven’t done that well in the first set. That’s it. I think that game shifted.