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Novak Djokovic, Australian Open, January 17, 2010
 

An interview with:

NOVAK DJOKOVIC


Q. You read much into your loss to Tomic the other day?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: No, not really. I was saying that the result really doesn't matter that much for me. I just wanted to get some practice matches under my belt before I come to Melbourne Park because I haven't played the opening tournaments of the year. Considering the amount of the matches I played last year, I tried not to commit to any events and just practice and be fresh for Australian Open, which is, you know, the most important tournament.


Q. Are you happy with your preparation?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yeah, yeah, I'm happy so far. In Kooyong, I haven't played a hundred percent of my capabilities because I was focusing on some other things and I was working hard off court, what people don't see logically.

But in these two days I will lower the intensity and just get ready for the opening round.


Q. Who do you think is the biggest threat to you?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Uhm, well, obviously Federer, Nadal is the best two players of the world are the two biggest favorites to win it again this year. Then you have Del Potro, Murray, Roddick, Davydenko. They're all in great shape, great form.

I think it's getting very interesting, men's tennis. It's good for the sport to have a good group of the players that are able to win a major event or a Grand Slam. I think over the years this can be one of the most exciting Grand Slams.


Q. Do you rate Lleyton Hewitt has a chance at all?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yeah, absolutely Lleyton is a big fighter. This is another year for him. He's trying to get back in the top 10. I think you can never underestimate his abilities. He's been winning against all the top players in the world, so there is no reason to believe why he shouldn't do it again. He's able to do it; it's just a matter of self‑belief.


Q. Your win here in 2008 seemed like it could be the break of the duopoly of Nadal and Federer. Now they started dominating again. Does Del Potro's win at the US Open give the other guys more confidence that it could be the end of the two guys leading the way all the time?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Of course, it does. The last five, six years the dominance was obvious from Federer, Nadal. They've been winning all the Grand Slams they've played. But now in last two years or so the things are changing a little bit.

As I said, it's good for the sport and it's good for us, the group of the players that is trying to catch up with Federer and Nadal. We have more belief that we can win a Grand Slams.

You know, but they are still the best two players in the world. So as long as is like that, you still have to rate them as the biggest favorites.


Q. Davydenko has been around for the last five or six years. He's been playing unbelievable. What do you put that down to? Why is he playing so well?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I really don't know if he's doing anything differently. But he's definitely, definitely one of the fastest players in the game. And he was always a tricky opponent to play against on any surface. He's an all‑around, all‑court player. Very fast.

I think the element of the game that he has improved most is his serve. I think he hurts his opponent with the serve a lot, and it gives him a lot of advantage, I guess.


Q. You played Tomic yesterday. Did he take you by surprise a little bit with the way he played?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: He has a great serve and I think he's a very talented player. He can have a bright future if he, of course, continues this way, to practice, to be professional, dedicate himself to this sport. I think he has the right people around him.

He's very young. He's only 17, 18 years old, and he's still able to play on this level with no problems. I think Australia can expect a lot from him.


Q. How much better are you as a player than you were when you won here a couple of years ago? How much have you improved?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I think I improved on my net play and my, you know, physical ability, strength. Maybe because of the work that I've put into some variety in the game, some volleys and serve, that I've changed some things. Maybe I lost a little stability and confidence from the baseline, you know. I might not play as well as I did in 2008 from the baseline, but I still have a lot of belief that I have a great game.

I mean, as I said, I worked a lot on serve‑and‑volley game. Todd Martin had an influence on that. So I know it's a process and it cannot happen overnight and I cannot learn all the things as soon as I try to practice them.

So I'm going slowly. I'm taking things step by step.


Q. Do you enjoy it as much as you did a couple of years ago? Has it become very hard work all of a sudden as you get older and there's more pressure on you?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: You know, winning a Grand Slam opened a lot of doors for me, gave me a lot of opportunities, of course, a lot of self‑confidence. But on the other hand, it took a lot of responsibility, pressure and expectations. It was all new for me. I've been through ups and downs mentally and experienced some things that I never did before.

Right now I still feel that I enjoy tennis and I love what I'm doing. I love playing, traveling around, competing. I just can take that 2008 and '9 as a big lesson to my life.


Q. Do you think Roger might be in any way a little bit less sharp now that he has twin daughters keeping him awake at night a little bit longer?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: You have to ask him for that. But he definitely still plays, you know, one of the best tennis in the world. He always tries to set up his form for Grand Slams, and we all know that. You know, maybe he has a little slower start, but then in the end his form picks up just before Grand Slam, and that's where he plays his best tennis. He plays a semifinal or more in last 25 Grand Slams. That proves it all.
 

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