Tennis' leading expert? Data. Let's build a Smarter Planet.Find Tickets Online at ticketmaster

An Interview With: Novak Djokovic

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Q. You made pretty quick work of your first few matches in this campaign. Is that the way to start a Grand Slam campaign?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Since I have nothing to complain about, I wanted to get my job done as quick as possible. I don't feel like I need to play long matches to get into the groove. I mean, I feel that I'm hitting the ball very well. Second match even better than the first one. Under the circumstances I think I came up with a very good performance. Stayed mentally tough and not allowed myself to get frustrated because of the wind and conditions that were obviously very tough for both of us.

Q. Maybe Sam Querrey next round will be the maybe first real test for you.

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, it's logical to expect that, you know, every next match that you play in a Grand Slam will get tougher. I mean, Sam is playing in front of his crowd. I'm sure that he's going to have some good support. But on the other hand, if we get to play on center court maybe night session, that's where my experience kicks in, I think. I have had a lot of matches, night sessions if we get to play, as I said, and try to neutralize his serve that is his big weapon. If he serves well he's very dangerous. I saw a little bit of his match today and he played great. He's in good form, good shape, and has nothing to lose. It's going to be a tough one.

Q. You were talking the other day about a shift in priorities when you have a family. Now you're in a Grand Slam campaign. Talk about the experience of trying to maybe return that focus for at least a fortnight to the job at hand.

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, my focus is there. I don't understand how the people really got what I said, but I don't think there is anything wrong. Actually, I think it would be much wrong if my tennis is in front of my baby and my wife. I think there is no question about it. You know, my full priorities and commitments and energy goes to my family as much as I need to, but that doesn't mean that I'm not gonna play tournaments or not going to continue on doing what I was doing so far. Of course I'm doing everything that I can, respecting the same daily routines that I had for many years with my team. And it's working well. Of course this is what I want to do well. I have big support from my wife, from my family, from my team. We are all on the same page. There is nothing significant that is going to change. But of course baby comes, and now when I'm married - if you were married, you would understand.

Q. I am.

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Right.

Q. Kids and all.

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I'm sure you get this -- you get a lot of questions (smiling).

Q. Several players yesterday were cramping and withdrawing. Is that different this year? Hotter? Can you explain this?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, Monday when I played my first match, night session on center court, it was very, very humid. I changed four, five shirts, T-shirts, and today only one the whole match. I didn't feel it was as humid. I think, you know, the humidity varies. The weather is kind of unpredictable this time of year in New York, and you have to be ready for anything, really. And, again, it's the best of five for us guys. Of course, you know, if you're playing during the day and if you don't get much wind then you have a lot of sun, you know, with the pressure and expectations and long rallies, can get the best out of you. I mean, it's not easy, definitely, to play at your best throughout the whole match.

Q. In the past you have spoken obviously highly of your coach, Jelena. My understanding is some Yugoslavian agency told her go up in the mountains and do a summer camp or clinic. If she hadn't been told to do that, how do you think your life would have been different?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, there was one tennis camp at a city in Serbia, not Belgrade, that came with a few coaches and about 15 kids to Kopaonik before her. So I was hitting a few balls there and trying to get to know the sport. I was a local boy in the mountains and I was participating in construction of these tennis courts, so I felt like my home court there. But I believe that everything happens for a reason. She was there for a reason. I met her for a reason. We started working for a reason. So it's all these things came together. Of course I was lucky. I was fortunate. That's why I don't take anything for granted. I'm very grateful for the opportunity to work with such a passionate person who is very knowledgeable about the sport in general and tennis specifically at those times when we went through I think biggest embargo in the history and wars and so forth. So it was not easy. But I remember my childhood in a very positive light.

Q. You used the phrase lucky. Do you think that was the luckiest thing that you came through in your career, that she came to your mountain village?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I had many situations in my life that, you know, just happened for me in the right moment. Of course as a person you need to be also lucky to find the right people, but to be supported by the right people, by the close ones. My parents gave me unconditional support and love. My father believed in me many times more than I believed in myself. My mother was also, you know, working 15 hours a day for me to maybe be able to be travel somewhere and go for tournaments. They had the great relationship with Jelena. That's how it all started. You know, some things really have to get together for me to become a tennis player, because in Serbia at that time tennis was not really a popular sport. We had always team sports in front of tennis, so I didn't get much recognition from, you know, the country itself. But, you know, I don't blame anybody. Those were the times, tough times, but they made me stronger and made me appreciate whatever I have now.

Q. As is often the case, there is Davis Cup right after US Open, which is not always the most convenient schedule. This year you've got an additional factor to consider with the upcoming birth. What's going to weigh the most on you in terms of making the decision about Davis Cup participation?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: It really depends few things, but for now I'm on the list. I spoke to the players. I spoke to Davis Cup captain, and, you know, I'm on the list. But we have to see how this tournament goes. My wife is not here. I haven't seen her for a while. I just see stomach is growing on Skype and Facetime, but I want to spend some time with her. So, you know, I'll see. Of course playing for the country is something that awakens a real passion in me and a sense of, you know, kind of belonging and really positive emotion and drive. But the other hand, I also have a very important stage of my life. I'm about to become a father, so that's something that is a priority now.

Q. Do you have plans to skip the Asian tour to be at home?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: No, not for now. For now everything is fine. I'm supposed to go there and play Beijing and Shanghai.

Q. First time without Vajda coach; first time with Becker. Is this something permanently moving forward or designing tournament by tournament?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, it's not the first time. We were together in Australian Open.

Q. No, I mean US Open.

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Oh, first US Open...

Q. First US Open with Becker.

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: We had two out of three Grand Slams that I was only with Becker this year. This is, again, third -- it's something that we agreed is going to be like that. We spoke about how we see this partnership and relationship working. At the end of last year when Boris agreed to be part of the team, Marián stepped down as a head coach. He's still of course going to travel with me. He's going to be in Beijing and Boris in Shanghai. So Marián is going to travel on some tournaments, but on Grand Slams I am going to be mostly with Boris. Sometimes Marián is going to join us depending on his commitments with family and with his daughters. His daughters are playing tennis as well, so he's traveling with them. He's devoting more of his time to his family right now.

Comments