Rolex Shanghai Masters
Tuesday, 8 October 2019
Q. Welcome to Shanghai. I saw a video and some picture of you with Chinese fans together singing a song. Looks like you learn a lot of new Chinese characters. How much do you like the support from Chinese fans?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, it’s great to be back again. I love being back in China. I have lots of support here.
I have been trying to interact with my fans as much as I can in the last 10-plus years that I have been coming to Shanghai. So to say, love affair with Shanghai has started in 2008 for me when I won my Masters Cup here, and that was the biggest title at the time that I won aside of the Grand Slam trophy in Australia.
Of course they make me feel like at home. They’re very friendly. They do things that I don’t think any other fans do it around the world. They wait for you in front of the hotel. They give you presents. They have amazing gestures. They’re ready to wait for entire day just to have a photo, to say hello.
It’s truly incredible. Very loyal fans. I try to pay them respect and give them back in a way not just through tennis but also through my very basic knowledge of Chinese language and Chinese characters.
But I try to upgrade it every year. Vocabulary is okay. I have couple of phrases that I know which make them happy (smiling).
Q. You’ve done the last stretch of the season many, many times. You have done the battle for year-end No. 1 many, many times. Is there any special mindset for this one?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Not in particular. I mean, as you said, I have been in this position many times before, obviously. You know, Rafa has had an amazing year so far, and, you know, I have to do well here in order to really be kind of having a chance or go toe to toe with him in the indoor season.
You know, I had a pretty similar situation last year, but, you know, Rafa didn’t play the end of the season. You know, I’m obviously thrilled to be playing well again. To be healthy, for me, that’s more important, because I did withdraw from US Open, which was a tough one to swallow, and after that, I thought that I, you know, considering all the evaluations right away, that I won’t be able to play the Asian swing. But shoulder has reacted really well to the rehabilitation process, and I played Japan really well. Felt great on the court.
I love playing in China. I love playing in Shanghai. I had lots of success here. So, you know, let’s take it week by week and see where we can arrive.
Q. Obviously you mixed things up this year and went to Tokyo instead of Beijing. I assume that was a nod to the upcoming Olympics and stuff. Just your perception and thoughts on…
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yes, well, that was one of the reasons. I also wanted to play in Japan for many years, and also while I was sponsored by Uniqlo I was invited to play many times but it just didn’t happen.
Now it happened this year also prior to Olympic Games that are happening next year in Tokyo, and the Olympic tournament is going to be played on the same courts. So it was a great opportunity for me to check the conditions out, to understand, you know, the surface itself.
Obviously it’s going to be played couple months in advance, so the weather is going to, you know, a subject that is talked about quite a lot there because of the heat and humidity.
But, you know, obviously I had a very positive week in Japan Open, and Olympic Games are definitely one of my favorite competitions. I get to represent my country and be part of the spectacle that is the, you know, longest-standing sports event in the history of sport.
It is quite special and unique, and hopefully I’ll be able to play. I mean, that’s the goal, that’s the aim, and we’ll see how it goes.
Q. The Australian Open announced today that Andy Murray will be playing next year. What do you make of that and his comeback in general?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, it’s very pleasantly surprising to see him playing now many tournaments in a row without having any health issues. At least not anything major.
He seems to be building his confidence and he’s working his way up. Regardless of his ranking currently, he’s a great champion and one of the greats of this game.
So if he’s healthy, you can definitely expect him to play at the highest level very soon. You know, I wish him that. It’s great to see him back.
I mean, obviously it was a very emotional Australian Open this year for him and for many tennis fans, but it seemed like it was too early to say good-bye, and it’s great to have him back.
Q. From the outside it looks like with the next generation, the younger players, it looks like about the same level and anyone can win on any day. Does it feel like that to you? Is that how you look at it?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: To win what? To win…
Q. To win a match. If they’re up against each other, it looks…
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Against each other?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yes, well, maybe there are some guys that are probably a bit more consistent than some other guys, let’s say.
But, yes, there is quite a similar, let’s say right now, level of play, of quality of tennis of these guys, but there are some guys that just are probably a bit separated from the group. Okay, Tsitsipas, you know, that has been already — still a NextGen, but he’s kind of already established top-10 player and maybe not considered anymore as part of that group.
But there is Felix and Denis and Hurkacz and guys like this that are playing really well, and on a given day they can really beat anybody.
I’m very pleasantly surprised by the level of consistency of especially Felix and Denis, you know, playing throughout the entire year, staying healthy and playing well and being professional, committed. That’s what you want to see. Those are very good examples.
Q. One of the players whom everyone is talking about this summer is Daniil Medvedev. He’s someone you have played before and beaten him before, but in the last two matches he’s beaten you. Can you talk a bit about what makes him so difficult to play and what you think about him as a player?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I think he has proven to anybody who doubted that he can be a top 5 player, he has proven them wrong. I mean, the last several months he’s been playing tennis of his life. He’s played finals at least in every event in the last whatever, five, six events, which is amazing.
I have played him in Cincinnati semifinals, and I was a set and almost a break up and kind of controlling the pace of the match, but then he stepped it up, started serving two first serves and going for the shots. That seemed like that it’s kind of like a storyline of every event that he played on in the last several months.
And he’s repeated that. And, you know, when you’re full of confidence, obviously you go for the shots more. But he definitely possesses the quality in his game from back of the court. He’s improved his movement, his fitness. He’s got the big serve. He’s got the height, and he uses angles very well. Backhand, hard to break that backhand. I mean, it’s very flat. He doesn’t make many mistakes, and he can hit anything he wants from that corner. Forehand maybe has been his weaker side, but now he’s improved that, so he’s very complete player.
Q. Maybe a stupid question, but left shoulder injury, was it coming from a change in your backhand motion? Did you have to change it now, or…
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: No, well, I don’t know. There are various things or reasons why maybe that happened, but not to get into details, but it wasn’t specifically about one shot or something that caused it. It was just over the time maybe the posture and the shoulder position and so forth.
But once we now corrected that, it seems to be fine. But obviously it still needs, I guess, another couple of weeks to really get back 100% of also not being concerned about it, because right now I don’t feel pain playing, but, you know, there is still being cautious about it, you know, and still working daily a lot on the preparation and rehab and recovery of the shoulder and strengthening of the shoulder. So there is a lot of hours spent on making sure that I’m able to play.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports