N. DJOKOVIC/J. Tsonga 62, 64
An interview with: NOVAK DJOKOVIC
Q. What have you got up for the rest of the season? What do you think your prospects are of going unbeaten for the rest of the year?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Next step is recovery and spending some family time, quality time. That’s as important as the working process or competition time. So going to recover. Plenty of time to get ready for the indoor season where I haven’t lost a match the last couple years. Although I haven’t played many indoor tournaments, I played only Paris and London for the last couple years. But still the perfect record that I have in these two tournaments allows me to believe that I can do well.
I’m not thinking about being unbeaten till the rest of the year. But, yes, that’s an option. It’s a possibility. But I’ll still try to keep the kind of a philosophy and approach where the next match matters.
Q. Can you talk a little bit about winning your third Shanghai title and also the match today against Jo.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I think in terms of the two tournaments back to back weeks, this has been the best two weeks of my life, my career. I think I’ve played the best tennis ever in these two weeks in terms of back to back. Honestly, that’s how I felt.
Energy wise, I was great. I didn’t get tired. I always had plenty of intensity, concentration, high performance level from the first match in Beijing to today’s match.
I mean, only one set where I got a tiebreak in two weeks is quite incredible. So I’m very, very pleased with the way I’ve played. That’s something that encourages me to keep on going and hopefully maintaining that high level of performance.
Today, as I was saying yesterday, the key was to get as many serves back into play to Jo because he has one of the biggest serves in the game. He has shown that in the second set, some breakpoints early in the set. He came up with some aces, some big serves.
Generally I felt always in control of the match. I felt like I’ve done everything right. I’ve won many of my service games very comfortably. Just didn’t allow him to get into the rhythm, get into the match.
Today’s match, and overall the tournament, it’s gone incredibly well for me.
Q. We notice that you always wear red shirts in China. Do you think the Chinese red brings good luck to you?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I believe so. I know it’s a lucky national color, so it’s my lucky charm and my ways of respecting this country and its color.
Q. Marian said you’re pushing your opponents to try to do things they cannot do to beat you. Does that also feel like this on the court, that whatever they are going to try, you can find an answer?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, that’s the kind of position you want to be in on the court. When you’re playing top players, obviously requiring from you your best tennis, but knowing that I can cover the biggest part of the court from each side allows me obviously to gain more confidence in terms of when we get into the rally.
Of course, I can’t expect to win every single rally, but percentage wise I have a very good chance against anybody because I know I can adjust to anybody’s game: players who are coming to the net or players who are staying back, playing flat or spin. I’ve played so many times against so many players, over the years you develop this kind of ability to adjust.
But also I think specifically this year what I’ve done very well is I haven’t waited for other players to take initiative. I’ve taken initiative first. So the quality of my first shots has been better this year than I think ever been before. That’s one of the main parts of my success in the game.
Q. I know you say it’s often difficult to compare years. But I wonder if you might think this year, in terms of the quality of your tennis, in terms of what you’ve done in the Grand Slams, in terms of the quality of the tournaments you’ve won, do you think this is turning out to be an even greater year than 2011 for you?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: It already is. It’s the best year of my life. No question about it. Everything is working great. I’m very grateful for the opportunity to be able to play this well, to be successful.
I don’t want to get carried away by success obviously because I want to be playing on this level for many more years to come. I know that one of the things that you have to do in order to keep playing on a high level is stay committed and stay determined to this lifestyle that is obviously not easy, traveling all the time. Now that I’m a father, that makes it a little bit more difficult.
I have the support of the close ones, my wife, the most important one, but my brothers, my team. Everybody is behind me on the quest of being the best I can be.
Q. You learned a lot in writing and speaking this year. Are you going to try to learn more?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I need to ask you if I understand right. You told me that I learned a lot about Chinese writing and speaking?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Okay, I get it.
Well, each year that I’ve been coming back to China, I feel more and more support and love from the loyal fans. I was talking about that many times during this two weeks.
I have to mention it again really because it is something special. Because of them I manage to play this well and get the necessary energy to be out here and get the best out of myself.
Yeah, I try to learn every day a new Chinese character, a new phrase. I need to work on my phrases more because I’ve been saying one same thing for too many years. So hopefully at this time next year you’ll hear a little bit more.
Q. Jo said a few times he had nothing to do, nothing to say, because you’re just unbeatable right now. Let’s assume if you are the opponent of Novak Djokovic, if you have to play against Novak Djokovic, what are you going to try to try to get a win?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: It’s a good question, but I have no answer (smiling).
Q. You say this is the best year of your life. Also the only thing I can think that didn’t go your way was the French Open final. Looking ahead to next year, I’m sure you want to win every tournament you play in, but is that a major goal next year? Is there any temptation to change the way you prepare for that at all?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I don’t think it has anything to do with the preparations. Maybe the fact that it’s very intense and condensed period of tournaments on clay court before French Open, sometimes you’re towards the end of Roland Garros lacking a little bit of freshness, I would say, mentally.
But again, no excuses. It’s the same for everybody. I just managed to fall short for that final step this year, a couple other years, last five, six years. But each year I feel like I’m closer. I will not change anything significantly in terms of preparation.
Clay is the surface that I grew up on. I played mostly in my childhood days on clay. I do like it. I have no problem with that. I’ve played many big clay court tournaments, played couple times the finals of Roland Garros.
Everything is fine. I’ll keep trying and going on. Like I said before, if I don’t win it ever, it’s not going to be the end of the world. I still have unbelievable career.
But it is, before each season starts, Roland Garros is one of the biggest priorities. It’s Olympic year, so that’s a priority, and every Grand Slam I play on.
Q. You’re in great shape now. In every tournament you are the favorite to win the title. Few people doubted you would win. Do you enjoy the status you have or are you waiting for a true rivalry?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Definitely confidence helps to approach the tournaments in a positive way. Every time I step on the court knowing I’ve had an amazing record this season and also in these tournaments in the previous years makes me play my best and makes me come out on the court with less doubts in my mind, I would say.
I do have lots of great rivalries. I don’t think it’s nice to say there is no true rivalry. In contrary, I have at least three big rivalries with, of course, Nadal, Federer and Murray, many other guys. But these three guys in particular.
Those rivalries also made me a better player, made me who I am as a player today.
Q. You’ve talked a couple of times, a few times this week, about how your family members have basically focused their lives to make your life happen. Is that sometimes something you feel is a burden?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: No. I think everything in life is about give and take. I’ve been saying that as my sign of gratitude really and pointing out really how important that is for my career.
That doesn’t mean that I’m not giving them back, not giving my attention, understanding and love and support to their lives. It’s crucial. That’s how any relationship can sustain a long time, not just between spouses, but between family members.
Fortunately for me I managed to find the right balance. Obviously everybody has problems. I’ve had ones. I’ve had tough times throughout my life with private things that have affected also my professional life. But finding the true balance has helped me to reach the peak that I’m on right now. That’s why I’m dedicating a lot of time to that ’cause I know how much energy I’m getting from them and try to give it back.
Q. This year you started the season in Doha. Do you know how you’re going to start it next year?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Doha.
Q. You’re going to Doha?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yes.
Q. Next week your ATP points will reach over 16,000. You make another history. What do you think about this? Do you worry about next year your points will go down?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: No, I’m not worried about next year. I’m actually trying to enjoy this year. There’s no space for worry. On contrary, I’m trying to use the best time of my life right now to positive emotion for myself and my team. We’re all proud of what we have achieved. I didn’t do it myself.
When the next year comes, I’ll start to think about it. But the time of me worrying about defending my points has far gone. Honestly, it’s not on my priority list of thinking process. I’m trying always to approach tournaments as anybody else: fighting for the trophy rather than really defending it.