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January 5, 2015

Novak Djokovic


THE MODERATOR:  Questions, please.

Q.  Welcome, Novak.  I hope you're feeling well now.  Are you okay?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Yes, I am feeling better today.  Obviously still feeling the consequences of the illness I had the last couple of days, but I'm confident it's going to be fine for tomorrow's singles.
Today I'm supposed to play doubles, and, you know, see how it goes.  Obviously I don't play doubles that often on the tour, so I'm excited to go out on the court and experience, I would say, new environment, new tournament that I never played on before in my career.

Q.  You quite often don't play in the first week of the tour, either.  What governed your decision to do it differently this time?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Well, I sat down with the team, and we considered the schedule obviously in advance, and we thought that, you know, it was not necessary in the previous years to play the first week of the season because I had so many matches in the seasons before that, so I basically would be satisfying my needs on the tennis court with couple matches in Abu Dhabi or Hopman Cup and then going to Melbourne.
But this year was different because we thought that the gap between the last match, official match in London, and the first match on the Grand Slam in Melbourne is too big and that I would need to play an official tournament.
Since I have been playing in Abu Dhabi for the last four years, I thought it would be much more convenient to come to Doha.  I never been in Doha, never played here, and heard only the nicest things.  This is a tournament that has the long tradition, you know, over 20 years, so that was, you know, that was one of the reasons I wanted to come here.
I saw that obviously the field is strong.  There are I think four or five top 10 players, and this allows me to see where my game is, and hopefully I can go far in a week.

Q.  What was the nature of the illness?  Secondly, what are your aspirations this week apart from getting more matches?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Well, the nature of the illness, I can't really say.  You know, I think it's many things combined.  I believe that I maybe overused myself in certain aspects of my life, combining the practice and the family and business on the side and several things that I had, so maybe the body told me I had to slow down a little bit, and so that's how it reacted.
But it happens to everybody.  I didn't get ill many times in last four, five years, so my body is still managing to fight with the flu in pretty efficient way.  So I just am hoping I can protect my wife and baby.  You know, that's why I'm trying not to be close to them even though they are here and we are going to spend our first ‑‑we spent our first New Year together and first Christmas that is coming up in two days for us, so it's really exciting to have them on the side.  This is going to be the first tournament we are all together with the baby.
And the second question was?

Q.  What are your aspirations this week?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Well, again, it really depends how I feel.  I haven't played tennis for now two‑and‑a‑half days, so I want to see today how I feel.  That's one of the reasons also why I'm playing doubles.  I want to check, you know, how I'm going to handle this competitive, you know, match play and then judge from that moment on.
But I think already the way I'm feeling today is much better and much more confident than I was two days ago.

Q.  Can you give us a little synopsis or analysis of fatherhood and how that's going?  Are you sleeping at night?  The baby?  Maybe a little bit your diaper changing skills or stuff like that?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Well, you know, I don't think it's necessary to talk about it too much.  I'm not the first and neither the last daddy in the world.  I think whoever is a parent understands what I'm going through and what kind of joy I experience as a parent and as a father.
Obviously at this stage of the baby's life, mother is the more important parent, I would say.  But nevertheless, I'm trying to be, you know, trying to be as close as, as useful as I can be, of course, giving lots of love and attention to my family, to my baby and to my wife that of course has a lot of commitments and a lot of efforts she needs to make on a daily basis with the baby.
Not because it's our baby, but I have to say he's really good with sleeping and sleeping the whole night, so allows us to have peaceful nights, and regarding that, there is no issue.

Q.  Are you changing diapers?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Of course I'm changing diapers.  Are you kidding me?  (Laughter.)  Of course.

Q.  Sharapova asked this year to win more slams.  Serena said they would need to be more happy and to laugh on court.  Nadal asked about play more, play matches.  What's the No. 1 in the world ask specifically to this year?  And looking to this year, do you think more still against you will find out during the year Nadal, or do you think after what happened the end of last year about Federer?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Well, as everybody, I have my own resolutions for new year, and privately I obviously have some resolutions that I wish for with my family before, of course, as much as health and joyful moments filled with love that we can have in this year.
And professionally just trying to maintain the right balance in life, you know, the right consistency, and, you know, physical strength, just mental stability, and, you know, kind of continuing with repetitiveness of the practice and routines that I had so far, because I believe that, you know, before you go out on the court, you know, knowing that you have done already a big work in many different aspects of your tennis career is already half job done in the match.  So knowing that you're physically fit, ready, prepared, mentally you're fresh, you have the clarity, you have the right team of people around you, you have everything in your power to get ready for the match and for the season, that's something that obviously allows you to have the high level of confidence before getting on the match.
And of course then there are different factors in the match that affect the result itself, as of course a factor of luck that everybody needs and it's very necessary, you know, for a player, but I will try to do in this season, you know, what I have done in the last couple of years, and that is to, you know, stay consistently dedicated to my daily, you know, commitments, obligations, but most of all enjoy what I do, because that's something that gives me strength.  This is my main source of motivation.
The second was?

Q.  (Question off microphone regarding Nadal and Federer.)
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Well, you know, you cannot count out Rafa, neither Roger, because both of them, they are great champions and they are still, you know, my biggest rivals and there is no question about it.
Rafa didn't play many matches in last four, five months.  He had similar issues with injuries few years back, and then he came back in 2013 and played maybe the year of his life.  Roger also didn't experience the season up to his standards back in 2013, but then again this year we were fighting up to the last couple of matches in London for No. 1 spot of the world.
So, you know, obviously these two guys are still one of the main candidates to win every Grand Slam that we play on.  Andy is right up there, and then you have Berdych, Ferrer, these guys that have been very consistent and established top 10 players.  Then you have some new faces coming up that we, you know, have seen in the last season that can challenge and that can win against the best players in the biggest tournaments, like Cilic, Wawrinka, Nishikori, Raonic, and Dimitrov, to name some of them.
It's normal to expect that there is a new wave of tennis players who are able to contend for the top spots of the world who are able to compete for the major titles.  This time was coming sooner or later and we all knew that.
It's going to be interesting really season, I think, that there is a wider and larger group of players who are able to get to the top of the world.

Q.  I'm from Argentina.  You are a good friend to Juan Martin Del Potro.  He doesn't play first tournament this year.  What do you think about that situation?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Yeah, it's unfortunate.  We exchanged a couple of messages actually for the new year, and I thought that he will play, but then I heard the news that again he's injured.  So it's really sad because he's a good friend of mine.
He's a great player, a Grand Slam champion, and somebody that definitely impacts the sport in a very positive way.  So I really wish him a speedy recovery.  I wish him to heal if not for Sydney then at least for Melbourne, you know, because he has a lot of fans around the world and he has a big game.
He's a big guy and somebody that is a fair‑play tennis player.  He has a great relationship with everybody on and off the court, so he has lots of respect from my side.  So I really hope to see him in Melbourne.

Q.  There are some respected commentators and one or two famous ex‑players too who think you have opened up a gap as No. 1 in a way that you haven't done before.  Is that something that you're particularly conscious of, and do you think it will affect the way that you or others go about things in the coming year?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Well, obviously I'm flattered by the fact that people talking praises about me, and I appreciate that very much, but to me that's just a sign of and the result of the hard work and kind of the consistency and the dedication that I have put in on a daily basis in the last couple of years.
So in terms of my approach, it doesn't change much.  I still, as I said, as I answered in the previous question five minutes ago, I still want to continue on doing what I have done so far, because I have enough reason to believe that this is something that is going to I think allow me to have a big opportunity to stay at the top of the men's game, you know, this consistency of staying injury‑free and obviously playing consistently well on different surfaces, and nowadays tennis has become much more physical and demanding in terms of success.
Let's say maybe 15 years ago the top players would miss a Grand Slam, you know, or some other big tournaments.  Today that's not the case.
If you want to fight for No. 1 of the world, you need to kind of be able to play most of the big events, especially Grand Slams, and you need to be able to win at least one or two of them if you want to be No. 1.
So I know that, but I know it all starts‑‑ big things start from small things.  So I need to take it step by step and, you know, be in the present moment.  That's all I wish for.

Q.  I know players always talk about even when they are No. 1 certain things in their game that they'd like to improve or elevate or whatever.  Are there key things in your game that at the start of 2015 you're hoping to improve or work on that you can talk about?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Oh, absolutely.  There is always room for improvement, and that's something that obviously keeps you going as a professional athlete.  Boris Becker joining our team 12 months ago has brought a new fresh, I think, perspective of observation on my game, and he's contributing and sharing his advices on how he sees my mental approach to the big tournaments, big matches, and of course my game in general.
So I'm not going to, as I said before, start to serve and volley and kind of follow his style of play, but I'm going to work on certain elements of my game that hopefully can be improved even more.  One of them was serve, of course, that a couple of years back wasn't I think as good as it is today.  Today I'm able, in some big matches, to get a lot of free points on the first serve which definitely, you know, allows me to feel more confident on the court, because my game is based on the baseline, so I have many opportunities to close out the point and come to the net and make some points shorter.
Those are certain, I would say, specifics that we are working in the game right now.  Of course we are always eager, as everybody else, to improve to get the game on certain highest level possible.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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