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November 20, 2019
SERBIA 3, Japan 0
KRAJINOVIC/Sugita 6-2, 6-4
DJOKOVIC/Nishioka 6-1, 6-2
TIPSAREVIC-TROICKI/McLachlan-Uchiyama 7-6, 7-6
THE MODERATOR: Okay, questions in English and then we move on to national language. First question, please.
Q. Janko, I'd like to ask you about Novak, if you don't mind.
VIKTOR TROICKI: We were going to bring him here.
JANKO TIPSAREVIC: I told him, You should come because we will have three questions regarding you. I don't mind. I'm joking. Go ahead.
Q. Thank you for understanding. In my country, there's so many big stars, we take them for granted. Could you talk about just the role he plays in Serbian sports and in Serbian culture.
JANKO TIPSAREVIC: I think Novak is, as you've pointed out, beyond sports. Serbia is a country that's had its political difficulties over the period of the last 15-20 years. So something that people were cherishing and looking forward to was the accolades and good performances of our athletes.
And Novak by himself, as a single entity, has obviously brought, and is still bringing incredible joy to an everyday Serbian person. So I think he, by himself, as I pointed out, as a single entity, is beyond sport.
Q. Congratulations, first of all. So, maybe you don't have any hesitation to pick Novak as singles one, but there might be speculation about singles two, who is going to play singles two. So could you talk about the process of choosing the singles player? And did you expect Sugita to play singles?
NENAD ZIMONJIC: Actually yes, I was surprised to see yesterday that Nishioka had to play both singles and doubles. Maybe it was just to get used to the conditions. I don't know what was the reason really behind it -- sorry, Uchiyama, I'm sorry.
And maybe the reason why, maybe you guys thought maybe that he has better chance to win today and you wanted to keep him fresh, you know. Maybe that's the reason why he played singles today.
And you ask me also regarding my decision?
NENAD ZIMONJIC: In these conditions and taking the forum in last couple of events that all the players played, Filip was in quite good shape and playing really good, and I felt like he would be the perfect guy to play for us as the second player.
Q. Could you talk a bit about what today's match meant to you personally. Obviously the match was decided, the tie was decided, but you had a lot of emotion after match point with Viktor.
JANKO TIPSAREVIC: It's a weird feeling that every single game counts in a hypothetical dead rubber because Serbia has already won. I personally like it, that every single, not only set, but later on tomorrow, once we finish with France, every single set or game will be counting towards who is going or progressing to the next round.
As for the emotions, they didn't catch me yet. I'm still not having the emotions of trying to realize that this is my actual last professional competition. I am hoping that there will be more matches to come. Serbia has a good team, with a great captain, and we can again hypothetically go all the way.
So, I'm trying, everyone though, you know, from time to time emotions hit me on the court, I'm trying to just block them and focus on the things that the coach or the captain in this moment is telling us to do.
Q. You obviously know very well the French team. Can you talk about this team, this week? And maybe the difference between playing them on three matches versus five matches, the new formula versus the previous one? Is it an advantage for Serbia or for France?
NENAD ZIMONJIC: I would say in this case it's quite similar. The more difficult part is over the time of three days. You have more time to recover or maybe even, you know, if you're losing two matches to Love, you have chance to come back. Here everything is happening quick. First of all, it's best-of-three sets and everything is played the same day. So all the players, they have to be ready and they play on the same day.
Regarding the team, France always has a really tough team. Doesn't matter who is on it, or what surface, or where you guys play. Is similar, it is, with our team. And the difference was over the years that you had a lot more players to choose from. And for us, if we didn't have the top four, then it would be a tricky one and tough, a tough part.
Regarding the match tomorrow, I'm expecting maybe that Grosjean will change the first player and that Benoit Paire will play against Novak. And Jo will play for sure the second one. In doubles, it is quite simple.
I would say on the paper, everybody thinks that Novak is really favorite, and your doubles is really favorite, and the second singles will decide. But I think everything is possible tomorrow.
The Japanese team showed us this yesterday. We came really focused and prepared today, everybody played on a high level, all our players. I'm really happy with the performance since the French team had the day off and we will play them tomorrow. So I'm happy the way everything finished today.
Q. Janko, you just mentioned about your memories regarding it hasn't quite captured you yet. So looking back on your career, could you say what are your favorite memories? You have been part of the Davis Cup-winning team in the past and also reached the top ten. Anything specific like which you would say is like the highlight of your career? And also, like, experience, like, playing with Novak, Viktor, and the other teammates?
JANKO TIPSAREVIC: The two highlights of my career, I can say on position No. 2 would be achieving the top ten for the first time. This was a dream come true for me, for a very, very long time that I was chasing. I remember when Paris was over and I was officially finishing the year as No. 9, going to London Masters as No. 1 reserve, I remember I felt extreme happiness.
The second, or the first and the most memorable moment of my professional career, was when the guy sitting right next to me won the last point against Michael Llodra. I know it sounds silly because I wasn't involved in the actual match. But I remember this was my highlight of my career, as I see it, even though Davis Cup is a team competition, and Novak was winning a lot of the matches in that year, I felt that we won it as a team together.
So if you ask me to point out two particular moments, I would say those two are the ones.
Q. (Off microphone.)
JANKO TIPSAREVIC: I played my first Davis Cup Final when I was 15, so it's been 20 years. And I'm always saying, I don't consider myself that I was playing so many years because I'm a big patriot. I don't feel I love Serbia more than anybody else in the team or any other normal Serbian person.
The main reason why I play for so many years is because I love being with the guys here. And you see this over the course of teams which are staying together constantly.
And I hope I'm not only speaking in my name, I'm speaking for the rest of the team: These are our favorite weeks of the year. Because when you are normally alone in a tournament, you are with your team, you are dealing with your issues, your stuff. But in a team environment, we all play really, really well, including myself.
So the main reason why I was playing for so many years is not because I particularly love Serbia more than anybody else. I am playing for so many years because I'm enjoying these weeks, being with these guys, which I consider my personal best friends even off the court.
Q. This is for both Nenad and Viktor. I'd like you to think back to your earliest impressions of Janko. Do you remember when you first saw him, whether it was on court, whether it was off court? Whether he had, you know, his eyebrow pierced, the blond hair, or even earlier than that? What were your earliest memories of Janko as a person and as a player?
JANKO TIPSAREVIC: Can I leave the room now?
VIKTOR TROICKI: Should I be honest?
JANKO TIPSAREVIC: Please, please.
VIKTOR TROICKI: Okay. Janko, first of all, he's two years older than me and he was always the best in our country as a junior, even in the age above him. So he was like...
NENAD ZIMONJIC: The god.
VIKTOR TROICKI: The god.
I never got a chance to play with him before I was 18 or something like that. So basically he was like a hero there. Honestly, an idol, we were all looking up to him, he was the No. 1 junior in the world.
He was dying his hair all the colors you could imagine. (Laughing.) I don't want to mention what -- he had some flecks in the back of his head. I won't mention them.
I think it was, yeah, first time I really spent time around him, I think it was, it was those junior tournaments in Florida, Eddie Herr and Orange Bowl.
NENAD ZIMONJIC: Did he talk to you?
VIKTOR TROICKI: No, he was too arrogant. I was a kid.
NENAD ZIMONJIC: Did he say hello to you?
VIKTOR TROICKI: No. No. I mean, I was younger and we were all going like -- back then Serbia, it was called Yugoslavia, and we were all representing Yugoslavia. We went as a team, team presentations. So I got to be around him but never got to talk to him. That I remember.
The first time I heard, as I said, when I was, like, 17 or 18, he invited me to practice, I was really excited. Really excited (smiling). And then over the years...
NENAD ZIMONJIC: Did he actually talk to you or he send somebody to ask?
VIKTOR TROICKI: I don't remember that.
JANKO TIPSAREVIC: Oh my God. Oh my God.
VIKTOR TROICKI: No, no, he was good.
And then -- no, then our relationship got a bit better and after we started playing similar tournaments after I got on the tour, he became literally like my brother, my best friend. We see each other, basically when we're back home, we see each other every day.
And yeah, for me, it's also very emotional to see him. I mean, I know it's his last competition, official competition, but I really cannot -- my feeling, I cannot accept it. It's, like, we spend so much time together on and off the court traveling together, you know. Also Zimo, but I'm talking about Janko right now. So it's really also emotional for me.
I really feel like he's a brother. And as he said, we have a really -- the whole team has a strong bond together. We spend so many unbelievable moments together, and I will cherish that for the rest of my life.
JANKO TIPSAREVIC: Nice save. Nice save at the end.
NENAD ZIMONJIC: Should I say also?
NENAD ZIMONJIC: For me, it's a little bit different because not just Janko, Viktor, and then Novak. I remember them when they were maybe 13, 14 years old. Janko I've seen him first time when he was, I would say, 15 or 16. I remember coming to watch this debut Red Star versus Partisan at the Red Star Club, and I had no idea how he looks like. And then I saw one guy, you know, like with all different colors in his hair and they showed me, Yeah, that's Janko.
Then I went to watch him play and first thing I noticed, was that he was warming up during his real warm-up for the match, so on court, with both shoes, both shoes untied completely. And I was like, What is this guy doing? What's his deal? (Smiling.)
With Janko, he's very special, he's unique. I like to joke around that he is extreme in everything. But, as they said, me being older, I take them as my younger brothers, and I tried all my career kind of to help them in any way I can. There was no exceptions, really.
And we got really close together. For me, it was really nice to see all of them growing up and maturing. And for Janko maybe took a little bit longer than for the rest -- I'm just joking.
JANKO TIPSAREVIC: No, you're not.
NENAD ZIMONJIC: He is right.
He is the one I would say for, maybe if you would ask if you have a teenager or somebody coming up that have different issues or whatever, Janko passed all of that. So he can give them good advice how to cope with all this and how to mature, how to get better.
I'm really happy that both Viktor and Janko, you know, I believe that all this that we have, this energy together, this love and care, I would say, for each other, helped each other to achieve their highest rankings, highest results.
And the main thing is nobody's really selfish here. Everybody's happy for the other guys, you know, when they're doing well. So this you can see in our matches or when we play in normal tournaments, but especially in the Davis Cup.
As Janko said, that's what makes it really special. And that's why also I've been part of the team for such a long time, and I was really hoping that eventually we will have the team that could potentially win Davis Cup, which happened. And that was really one of the best moments, really, in my career.
Q. Janko, as we know, our sport is an incredible teacher. If you had to step back in your long, wonderful career, what do you think this sport has taught you? And also in life, we can never go back, but if you had to change one thing in your career, what would that be, Janko?
JANKO TIPSAREVIC: I think it's incredibly ungrateful for me to say that this sport is tough. Because if you would speak to every single athlete, whether this is chess, golf, volleyball, soccer, basketball, they would point out that their particular sport is incredibly tough, incredibly hard.
But the one thing that I really genuinely feel is that this sport, because it's an individual sport and you're alone, a lot of the time you're alone, you're traveling around the world. And you start from -- most of us start from very humble beginnings.
And then the way the system is made that nothing, financial recognition, points, nothing is guaranteed. For everything that you achieve you have to grind and dig and fight. The one thing that I see is that this sport really, really makes you fucking tough. I don't know a champion or a good player in this sport that has achieved greatness that is not tough, not only on the tennis court, but as a person outside of the tennis court.
Now, I can vouch for Novak because I know him close and personally. But I feel because the sport is made in such a way is that by default it has to make you tough, not only on the court when you're facing a breakpoint on 4-All, but also later on.
How do you translate the toughness which you achieved 10, 12, 15, 16, 17 years on tour later on in being a parent, being a son, being business owner or whatever?
If I would have a time machine to go back, and you're asking me what would I change, Nenad pointed it out a bit, he said it joking-wise, but it actually is true: I would change my arrogant and pretentious behavior from the moment that I was the No. 1 junior in the world until I started playing my best tennis on the senior tour.
The reason for this was because, as Viktor pointed out, I was No. 1 under 12, later on in Europe and in the world No. 1 under 14, 16, and 18, and I felt invincible because I was playing with boys.
Now, all of a sudden, when you're playing on the ATP Tour, starting with satellites at that point and Futures Challengers, you have to face and play against men. When you play against men you need to lose. But then you lose, you get better, you learn and you start playing better eventually. But I wasn't taking losing very good. I was a coward very deep inside because I didn't have the champion's mentality that I was willing to give everything I have and lose 6-1, 6-0, go back on the practice court tomorrow again and do the same thing over and over again. Because this is essentially how you become a winner.
From a famous Hollywood movie, 'It is not how hard you can hit, it's about how many times you can get up when somebody hits you.' I realized that in the later stages of my career, somewhere around -- I was still okay because I had a very good working ethic and I was practicing four, five, six hours every day. But when I was able to unlock my full potential, this happened in the later stages of my professional career once I got married, settled down, and started to look tennis as a part of my life a bit more seriously.
THE MODERATOR: Questions in Serbian.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports