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An Interview With: Novak Djokovic

Monday, September 1, 2014

Q. In the second set when you saved the set point with the forehand pass, you turned to the crowd and kind of fired them up. Can you describe that point? And what does the crowd here do for you in a moment like that?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, it was one of the turning points of the match. If you won that point, won the second set, it's pretty even. So it's a big point, and tried to get the crowd engaged. Not many matches I have played in the last five years on Armstrong Stadium, which was before Ashe the center court of US Open. A lot of history there. It's a great court. So I tried to enjoy the experience.

Q. We read a lot about your hard training regimen. Is there any way you can prepare for conditions like today?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I mean, of course you can. You can always, you know, work on your endurance, physical aspects. But, again, it's not possible always to feel at 100%. Obviously in the match you go through times where you feel better, where you feel worse, depending on your emotional state, depending on the level of performance of your opponent, how much pressure he puts on you and so forth. It varies. You know, you have ups and downs. It's important obviously in these particular conditions not to get carried away by, you know, frustration of heat. And especially after long rallies try to get extra breath. Everybody is different, but I tried to focus on each point individually, because I know that I definitely wanted to stay not too long there. Obviously when I won second set I wanted to get the job done in three.

Q. Next round, Murray or Tsonga.

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I mean, they're still playing. It's a great match. Tsonga won Toronto. He beat me and Murray in two days and played some great tennis. I mean, Jo, if he serves well he can really beat anybody. I mean, he's a great athlete. He has great dynamic shots from all around the court, big serve, comes to the net. He's also somebody that loves big stage. He loves playing in front of big crowds. The other hand, you have Andy who we all know his quality. He's already has been Grand Slam champion, Wimbledon, US Open, Olympic Games. So he has a lot of success behind him and a lot of experience behind him. He knows how to play center court US Open where he played some great tennis and we had some great matches. You know, the last one was in finals in 2012 in five sets. Whoever I play against, it's very tough, tough draw. Gonna have to be playing my highest level in order to advance.

Q. Can you give me your opinion about five-set games.

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Excuse me?

Q. Give me your opinion about five-set games, how hard is that.

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, we get to play five sets in Grand Slams and Davis Cup only. It's pretty special obviously if you go all the way to a fifth setter. This year I have lost in fifth set against Stan in Australia. It was one of the matches that stand out this year that I play in five sets that I can remember. When you go the distance, especially against one of the top players, you know, very few points can decide a win. That's obviously a combination of mental toughness and physical strength that give you the win in the end.

Q. You're a veteran who goes deep into most slams. For you this match coming up on Wednesday, Murray, Tsonga, in your mind is this the beginning of the US Open? Now you played the junior varsity and now you're ready to begin?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I don't think it would be nice to say it's start of US Open now. Totally disrespect all of my opponents that I played against in the opening rounds. I think it's great that I have been playing some really good tennis, really high quality so far, but it's normal to expect that I'm going to have tougher opponents as the tournament goes on. You know, quarterfinals against Tsonga/Murray, as I said, it's very tough draw. It's the way it is. But in order to get far in this tournament, I have to win against the best players in the world.

Q. Viktor Troicki, you've spoken about his case last year. How closely have you been following his comeback the last month?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Very closely. I congratulate him for a win. He just won a challenger from qualification and won eight, nine matches in a row. You know, he's around 250 in the world from scratch, zero. He had no points. Very few wildcards. He had to start from qualifications of challengers and so forth. It's not easy. It's not easy for somebody who has been an established top 20, top 30 player who was as high as 11 or 12 in the world, and very dear friend of mine. A lot of things happen. I don't want to go back and talk about what happened, but, you know, I'm proud of him getting through that and now again winning an event and coming to top 250 in the world, which is amazing only after few months. His goal is to reach Australian Open as a main draw player, so he has to be top 100 there. I think it's possible with his quality, and I wish him all the best.

Q. You're one of the fittest players on tour. Some of your serving stats have been getting better. Do you feel you're running less on the court than maybe in years past?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I don't know. You tell me. You know the stats better (smiling). I haven't really...

Q. How does it feel?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: How does it feel? Especially after the match today it doesn't feel that it went very easily. Obviously I had to run. I had to run a lot. Philipp is a tough player. Really depends. Of course I do want to use the first shot more efficiently. I want to be more aggressive the first shot after serve and after return. I want to try to get into the court and dominate the rally, dominate the play. That's the goal, you know. It's something I have been working on. Obviously I know that I have a good defense game and I can, you know, get the balls, an extra ball back and make the opponent play extra shot. But, you know, why spend so much energy if I can actually execute my shots in first two, three shots of the point better.

Q. Philipp told us he really enjoyed playing you and Boris before the tournament. What do you think about his performance today?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yes, we practiced and Philipp is a good friend, a good guy. He is somebody that is, you know, very professional, very committed to the game. He has a very powerful game. Good serve. Just all-around, complete player. Really can play on different surfaces equally well. Very solid forehand and backhand. Good returns. Steps in. Has good variation with slice. So, yeah, he's been out there for many years, top 20, top 30 of the world. I think he hasn't still made a breakthrough to the top 10, but I think he has a quality. Just a matter of consistency, a matter of, you know, getting this fourth round quarterfinals of Grand Slams on regular basis each year. It's not easy obviously, but he has experience and he has speed in his legs. He's a quality player.

Q. What does that quarterfinal Grand Slam streak that you have mean to you? What does it say about you? And also about Andy, is he a different player since the back surgery? Do you think there is something else that's affected his results?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I'm very glad obviously that I had so many consecutive quarterfinals of Grand Slams. It says that I do value these tournaments the most and try to always perform my best tennis in them. Obviously motivates me for the future to continue that streak, of course. Why not? Regarding Andy, well, I think also he performs his best in the Grand Slams. Even though he had this back surgery last year that kept him off the tour for the last few months of the season, he's been on and off this year. But I think in the big matches, as the tournament progresses, he's still fit. He still plays very high quality tennis. That's what I expect him to do.

Q. As you move deeper into the tournament, are you seeing any similarities from your championship run here a few years ago?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, 2011, I played great tennis, you know, throughout the whole tournament. 2012 was the same but didn't manage to make that final step. You know, as we come closer and closer to the finish line the matches will get tougher, so that's where I will see where my game is and if I'm mentally strong enough to hold on. I mean, I have had a great Wimbledon run; Roland Garros, great clay court season. So I want to continue on. I want to build on that. I feel good about my game, myself. My physical state is pretty good. I'm fit. This is something that is obviously encouraging me for the next one.

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