Rolex Shanghai Masters
Saturday, 13 October 2018
N. DJOKOVIC/A. Zverev 6-2, 6-1
Q. Very well played today. Where does that performance fit into your 1000 matches?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, it was a great way to celebrate the milestone. It was a lot of numbers, symbolic 1000th match, one hour exactly of play today. When it comes to the match, I thought I did everything I intended to do very well. Just made him always play an extra shot. Just tried to get as many of his first serves in back in play.
He had a low percentage of first serves in general the entire match, which definitely helped me to get into the rally where I thought maybe I have a better chance than him with the way I’m playing.
But it was quite a strange match from his side. I mean, I know he can play much better than he did tonight. I don’t know whether he had faced some issues physically or not, but he was just not there mentally. You could see that he played a poor quality tennis match.
From my end, I tried to just focus on what I need to do. I felt I executed it well.
Q. This puts you in the No. 2 position. I don’t know if it’s important for you at this stage or not, because it was almost one year or something like that.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, of course — I mean, it’s important, and I am grateful that I have this achievement. I’m proud of it. Obviously I work hard for it, and my ultimate goal is to get to No. 1 by the end of the year. I’m in a good way.
But, you know, being No. 2 after this tournament is also a great achievement, considering, you know, the first four, five months of the year and considering I had the surgery, and where I was about four months ago and where I am today is quite an extreme opposite. I’m just cherishing that achievement and every moment spent on the court.
Q. You and Roger are in your 30s. Sascha and Borna are in their early 20s. Feels like we have kind of a battle between different generations here. Any thoughts on that?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: You said…
Q. It feels like we have a battle between different generations here. Any thoughts on that?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I agree (smiling).
Q. Can you preview the final? We don’t know yet who you are going to face, but Roger and Borna, give us your thoughts about it.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I think last time they played, Borna won in Halle finals. So we cannot underestimate Borna. He’s a hard worker. He’s one of the hardest-working guys on the tour. He puts a lot of effort in practice. He’s one of the leaders of the new generation. He’s played some great tennis so far this week.
Roger has been Roger, you know. When he needs to play his best tennis this week and get himself ahead of the other guy, that’s what he did. He does that so well. He did it so well throughout his career. That’s why he is who he is, and he’s there.
We’ll see. I mean, obviously if I get to play Roger, I mean, that would be, so to say, a perfect final for this tournament that everybody was anticipating in a way. And, you know, knowing that I have won against him in our last encounter in Cincinnati finals obviously can add more to my confidence and approach to the match. And I love the way I have played so far this week. I’m ready for whatever challenge is across the net.
Q. We appreciate that you wrote to China this time on camera, even though the second character need a bit more work. You missed two strokes.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yeah, that’s why people — you know, the first character, when I wrote it, the people were like, yes, it’s great. And the second one not so much (smiling).
So I hope I didn’t miss a line or two, because then hopefully it’s not a completely wrong meaning.
Q. Just tell us how do you come up with the idea and who taught you?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I have a lot of tutors of Chinese language here in China. It’s my loyal fans, and they — you know, I like to try to learn more about the culture, speak a little bit of Chinese and obviously write new characters, trying to come up with a new one every day.
Yeah, when I finished the match, I have, like, three, four papers with previously written characters on them already by the fans, and then I’m cheating a little bit, basically. As I’m kind of dressing up, I’m looking at the way I’m supposed to do it. So I don’t do it always perfectly, but, you know, I at least try. I give an effort.
Q. I don’t know if you remember, but the first of your 1000 tour matches was a Davis Cup match in Belgrade. Do you remember that?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yes.
Q. So back then…
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I didn’t know that that counted.
Q. Yes, it does. So back then, did the 16-year-old Novak Djokovic think that Pete Sampras’ total 14 slam titles was achievable at that point?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, part of me, yes. Of course, I mean, I wouldn’t be so dedicated to this sport if I didn’t believe that I can achieve great heights. But you always have to kind of pinch yourself, particularly at this stage of my career, and be grateful, because in the end of the day, I did have an awesome career so far that has blessed me with a lot of great achievements.
I always try to remind myself, and I have, you know, a lot of people around me that are very close to me in my life that also try to remind me that I have to appreciate every milestone, every success, every win. Also losses, because you learn more from losses.
Yeah, it’s quite a journey and quite a trajectory I had in my career. I remember that first match that you just mentioned. The outcome was not the same as a 1000th match. I lost that first one. I remember…
Q. I think you won.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Did I? It was against a Belgian, right?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Oh, was it against Latvia? Oh, it was a dead rubber, so you can’t…
Q. It counts.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: It counts? A dead rubber counts, as well? Great (smiling). Thank you for bringing that up.
Q. Gerard Pique is here, and I would like to know if you have had the opportunity to meet with him after what you and other players have talked about the new Davis Cup. Have you met with him?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: In five minutes, literally. When I finish here, I’m going to talk to him. You want to be present?
Q. Ah, I like. It’s possible? What are you going to say to him?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I’m going to say, “Amigo, como estas? Thanks for coming.” (Smiling.)
No, I mean, it’s great to have a superstar in football, you know, trying to do something different and innovative in our sport. Yes, we can have different opinions about the formats, but at least he loves the sport and he is showing goodwill, you know, to unite everybody and is trying to do something that so far hasn’t been done in terms of Davis Cup and everything.
So we will see. I mean, obviously the good thing is that we all want to work together. That’s the ultimate, I think, goal for all of us players and associations involved in our sport is to try to create one event, because, to be honest, at least in my opinion, there is no room for two big events. World Team Cup and Davis Cup cannot co-exist on a high level, in my opinion, especially they are so close to each other. It might happen for Year 2 or 3, but sooner or later it has to be only one.