Rolex Shanghai Masters
Friday, 12 October 2018
N. DJOKOVIC/K. Anderson 7-6, 6-3
Q. I think it was a couple years ago you last played Sascha. Is that right? How different a player are you expecting to play up against tomorrow compared with the last time.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, we are both different players. We played once, as you mentioned, more than two years ago in finals of Rome tournament. It was a different surface. I wasn’t, I feel like, playing as well as I’m playing today.
You know, but also, he has improved a lot, and he has established himself as a top player. Yeah, I mean, it’s going to be definitely a close match, I think, quite similar in style of the play to today’s match, you know. Kevin is a big server, big hitter from the back of the court, really aggressive, tall.
Sascha is similar to that. In these kind of conditions, everything happens so quickly, so I kind of have to be, you know, alert, in a way, and very focused from the very first point, try to get as many serves back in play as I have done today. I thought I returned well, and that was probably one of the keys of the match.
Q. To beat Anderson in straight sets on such a quick surface, you must be doing a lot of things right. Is there something especially that you are really happy about in your game that is really clicking?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I think it’s logical to expect the more returns you put back in play, the better chance you will have, especially considering my baseline game, but at the same time, you know, maybe we need to mention the importance of holding your own serve and trying to do that without facing too many break point opportunities.
I faced one today, and it was a set point. I managed to pull through that one, and I haven’t lost too many points on my serve. So I think that’s a part of my game that maybe is undervalued, in a way, and stated, but that helps me obviously when I have an opportunity to step in and second-serve or swing through in the baseline points.
And as we have mentioned, the conditions are very quick, so, you know, holding your serve comfortably is probably the key.
Q. Talking about your serve, because we may have forgotten about your surgery was not that long ago on that arm. It seems from outside it’s back to completely normal, but are you still thinking whether you need more treatment on that side or is it completely in the past?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: It’s completely in the past.
Q. You always have a good performance in Asian season, China season, precisely, and you always have a lot of fans here or different places in China. What do you think about your friends that come to support you today and they make a lot of banners and posters for you and pictures? You always know how to write the characters. What do you think about that?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, they teach me, and as I said, they are my teachers, professors of Chinese language and culture. I’ve said this before. I really think that they are one of the best tennis fans in the world. I think they are very loyal. Very, very supportive. They give me a lot of love and they appreciate me being here and performing in front of them and doing well.
Of course I try to return that favor and respect to them with my tennis, but also, the time that I spend with them off the court, you know, I try to be with them as much as I can.
We talk. You know, they give me presents. Most of these fans I have been seeing for many years. Over the last ten years that I have been coming back to Shanghai and Beijing, they have been there. It’s a very loyal relationship.
Q. You started this session by saying you’re playing at such a high level at the moment. When was the last time you attained this very level? Was it winning the US Open and Wimbledon, or are you playing better now than you were then?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I mean, look, I think just in terms of consistency, it’s there what I was lacking in the first part of the year. I mean, after surgery, I had to face some difficulties. Understanding how that invasive treatment has compromised my serve and my game in general, it has compromised more than I thought it will.
So it took me three, four months to really get everything together and start feeling well, start thinking less on the court what I need to do and just, you know, letting things flow automatically as they should.
Yeah, I mean, starting basically from Queen’s to this point, to this day, is where I feel like I’m playing my best, and you can see the results are showing exactly that.
In terms of percentage, whether I’m playing this week better than I have in Wimbledon or US Open, I don’t think so too much. I mean, it’s right up there, and I’m really glad that I don’t have too big of oscillations during my matches, and I’m keeping my focus there and just being very consistent and very solid. And that’s something that has helped me throughout my career to reach these heights, you know, always trying to be solid and make the other player work twice as much for his points.
Q. I just wanted to ask you about your celebration at the end. You do the hand movement. You’re looking up. Almost seems like you’re focusing on something or someone up there. Is there someone particularly in your mind or something in your mind?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, it’s God himself (smiling) inside of me and on the sky, as well. So I’m trying to, you know, share that love and that light and divine energy with all the people.
It’s quite a special moment for me to be able to be playing the sport that I love and to be successful in it, and, you know, it has become like a traditional celebration about year and a half or two years ago, and ever since then, whenever I would win the match, I would do that.
You know, it’s quite nice to see the reaction of the people to it, and I have received a lot of, you know, nice comments about it. So I’m glad the people feel that.