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An Interview With: Novak Djokovic

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Q. Would you explain the point near the end of the first set that you kind of gave away. What happened there?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I didn't give it away. I stopped to play. The chair umpire hasn't heard me, hasn't seen that I stopped the play. And Sam, as well.

Q. Nobody else in the place knew it. You hit it back...

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: It was obvious in the replay. People could see it that I hit the ball and I stopped and I said challenge before he hit the ball.

Q. You came into the tournament with not the best leadup. A lot of things going on in your life, but you don't look too distracted. What's going on in your game right now?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: What is supposed to go on in my game? It's peaking at the right time, at the right tournament. This is where I want to play my best tennis. I haven't done as well as I wanted in leadup tournaments, Toronto and Cincinnati. I didn't know how emotionally drained I was in a way until I played Tsonga in Canada and played some great match and I didn't feel I could deliver my best. That's something that when I analyzed, you know, what I had two months before was normal in a way. I was expecting of myself, and I always am expecting from myself, the best and to go as far as I can. But obviously emotionally wasn't ready for those tournaments. But the upside of me losing early in Cincinnati is that I had more time to prepare for US Open, last Grand Slam of the year. Over the years I played some of my best tennis on these courts. four finals and one title is quite impressive record. I feel very comfortable playing on Arthur Ashe stadium. The New York give me a lot of energy. It's a pleasure to perform, to play in front of them.

Q. He has a big first serve, and you were into every one of his service games. How much confidence do you take out of this for the next round?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: A lot. I can play Isner in the next round, or Kohlschreiber, whoever wins that match. In case I play Isner, I have a good feel about my return. I positioned myself well. I prepared myself with the team tactically very good. But, again, when you're on the court in important moments, clutch moments when it's 30-All, a break point, that's where most of the time you have to follow your instincts and try to react well, and, you know, kind of be aggressive as much as can you. But, you know, sometimes when somebody is serving as well and as strong as Sam or John, over 130 miles, best you can do is block the serve and get into the rally. That's where my chances were, and that's where I was looking for my chance to move him around the court, get into a rally, always get another ball back into play. So I think I have done that particularly well today.

Q. You have this great life on the ATP traveling the world, competing at the top level, one challenge after another, meeting great people. One of the toughest things we have in life is just taking things for granted. How do you go year after year without taking this sort of great life for granted?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I have to first thank my parents for that and my family, all the people who were contributing to my development as a person and as a player. They tried to educate me in the best possible way never to take things for granted in life. I believe also the experiences that I had alongside my countrymen and all the people from Serbia during '90s, early '90s, late '90s with two wars and sanctions and so forth, tough times just generally for everybody who lived in the country, and particularly for the ones who tried to do something internationally, like I have done in my case, you know, with tennis. There were many times that, you know, many times cases where I couldn't travel for the tournaments because we didn't have enough support, financial support. But all these experiences particularly have made me stronger. I appreciate everything in life much more. I feel like I can't ask from life anything more than I have in this moment. I mean, I got married; going to become father soon; being No. 1 in the sport that I love with all my heart. I mean, it's pretty awesome moment. So I try to cherish that.

Q. (Question regarding Butorac and ATP Player Council. )

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Eric Butorac? Yeah, I spoke to Eric several occasions in the last year, year and a half. I think he's very involved in the tennis politics, and he's trying to represent players in best possible way. I mean, I'm sure that players selected the right person to do that, because he's one of the few players that is actually very, very committed to what he does.

Q. When you said you were emotionally drained before Cincinnati and Canada, was that just family stuff or was something else wrong?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, no. It was just overwhelming moments. Going back to the clay court season, had an injury that I didn't know with the wrist how far it's going to stay there, if it's going to be an obstacle for me to play Roland Garros, and that has taken a lot of energy from me emotionally. Then Roland Garros, losing another final against Nadal and then bouncing back and winning Wimbledon the way I wanted and had becoming No. 1 and then few days later a wedding. So these things together are very overwhelming in every way. Of course, it gave me a lot of positive energy, but of course it was very demanding. You know, I tried to enjoy that and worked pretty good before the leadup tournaments to US Open. I was physically ready, but obviously emotionally I was still not out there.

Q. Your fellow countryperson, Alexandra Krunic, revealed a secret that yesterday she actually kicked you out of the...

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yes.

Q. Was that the most humiliating moment of your career?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: No, absolutely not. I hope she kicks me out every single day so she keeps on winning (smiling). If that's the lucky charm. Actually, we joked around this morning that I knew she was in one of the six rooms up there next to the gym, in private physio room. So I was in the first one. I left the door open just in case she comes and her team and if they want to use that room also as well as the room where they were. You know, I let them be the way they are. She's doing tremendous work and tremendous job here in US Open winning against Kvitova today, reaching first time in her career fourth round. She's still very young. She has a lot of variety in her game and she battles. I think that's something that people respect with her. You can see the brave heart.

Q. Besides feeling a little bit mentally fresher, what else in your game do you feel is clicking or better than the last few matches?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Just more solid in every shot, I believe. Using serve efficiently, not going for power and speed as much as for accuracy and precision, allowing myself to have an easier first shot. Just moving better, returning more balls in the court. Overall very, you know, very solid game.

Q. 69% first serves. Are you happy with that?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I'm happy. Everything above 55, 60%, I'll take it.

Q. You were talking a little bit earlier about your childhood development and education. Did you have any classroom experiences that you feel were particularly formative in terms of your ongoing intellectual curiosity now that you have to kind of learn on your own?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, you know, going to the school obviously gives you these basic knowledge and education about many fields, many things in life and many fields of life. Jelena has kind of focused on certain things that she believed are helpful from our tennis career, and from very early stages of my life I already had vision that -- you know, I want to be the best in the world in tennis already when I was eight, nine years old. She was one of the persons that contributed the most to this vision, because she believed strongly in my talent and my potential. She was assuring my parents that they should support me and try their best, you know, for me to kind of chase my dream. Reading poetry, listening to the music, analyzing the top players at that time, my own game, many things that we have done had its purpose.

Q. Do you think all the ups and downs of your game this season and everything going on off the court, is it harder to be kind of the court jester that we have come to know over the years? Do you feel like you have to be more serious?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Not in particular. I feel just as a more fulfilled person in general. I'm so happy and very grateful for the life that I have. So knowing in back of my mind that, you know, now my wife is pregnant and I'm going to become a father, all these things just can give me very positive influence and joy in my life. There's nothing negative and there is no fear or any kind of similar emotion that can, you know, get to me. Obviously as a professional athlete, as a competitor on the court, you go through different phases of emotions. But generally, you know, I have so much experience and I love competing. I love being out there. I wouldn't be here if I don't, you know, have the passion for this sport. As we talked about music a little bit, if you don't mind, this is a first-time experience for my dear friend, Zia. If I may invite her to come here next to me, and if one of you can ask a question. She's a musician. She's nine years old and she has written how many songs so far?

ZIA UEHLING: I have five that are like ready, and I have about two books that I'm working on right now.

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: She's a prodigy, a future star, and this is a very valuable experience for her. So please do ask one question.

Q. What instrument do you play?

ZIA UEHLING: I play guitar.

Q. Are you writing the music and the lyrics?

ZIA UEHLING: Yes.

Q. Can you sing a song for us?

ZIA UEHLING: Sure. I will sing an original song I wrote called African Sun. I wrote this song to give hope to the children in Africa. I never really play without my guitar, so I'll give it a try. (Singing song.)

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