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April 1, 2007

Novak Djokovic


THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. How does it feel to be the youngest champion in the 23-year-old history of this prestigious event?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: It feels great. It feels great. Every time you win something or you are the youngest player or you make any record, I mean, it certainly feels great. It means that your name is in the history of the sport. I am very proud of that.
I know that I worked hard throughout all my career to reach this point, and I hope that this is just the beginning of a long career, I hope. You know, there is always these injuries which are a big factor, and a big problem in the sport in general, especially in tennis where you need to take care of your whole body. I hope I'll stay healthy and have a long career.

Q. That sixth game of the second set, 22 points, so many deuces, that one, to actually win that game, how important was that in the way the match went?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: It was probably a turning point. You always have the turning points in every match. It just depends how you deal with them. It's very important to stay very calm and mentally strong. I managed to do that.
I managed to hold my serve. I wasn't able to serve 100% because the sun was going straight in my eyes, and I really had difficult times with this one side and with a little bit of wind.
But in the end, you know, I managed to be stronger mentally, hit some good shots and just patient play, just stay into the match.
Afterwards, I made another break, and it gave me a big advantage to be two sets up, you know, in the finals. It's a big advantage.

Q. Did you plan out -- had you thought about in your mind what you would say if you win? I mean, it seemed very poised and mature for someone who was winning a first big tournament. Is that something you had imagined in your mind or was that spontaneous?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I think it's spontaneous. I just like to -- I just like to enjoy the moment, whatever I do. I think it's very -- it's just me. It depends. Every person is different, and everybody does it differently, everything what they do.
But me, I just -- I was focused, really, throughout all the match. I was physically a little bit going down in the third set, and I knew if I lose the third set, it's going to be very difficult for me, because Cañas is, you know, physically probably fitter than me. He's Argentinian, they go for the clay, six hours a day probably they play. No, I'm joking.
Just that really I enjoy every moment. I think that the crowd needs that and loves it. They really salute and applaud for every positive speech.

Q. Where did you succeed where Roger Federer twice failed last month?

Q. Where did you succeed, what was the difference, why were you able to beat him where Roger could not?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I mean I cannot now give any advices or tips to Roger (laughing). It would be not so nice, you know. He's No. 1, probably the best player ever in the history of this sport.
But you always have a bad day. Probably Indian Wells was his first match. So he played not good that day. And here he was playing better, but still, he was probably mentally thinking about the past match in Indian Wells.
So it's a lot of things, you know. It just depends from the player, you know.
I think what I was trying to do today is to stay patient in the points because I knew that Guillermo is a player which really fights every ball. He's a big fighter, big competitor.
But he really doesn't have any of his shots -- all the shots are pretty solid, but none of them is like a weapon, you know. So I was trying to stay patient, but still be very aggressive, and I managed to do that.

Q. Do you feel that the level of your play is right up there with Federer and Nadal? Obviously you beat Nadal this week?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I was always trying to compare myself to the best players in the world, because that's what I want to be one day. Right now I feel like probably for the first time in my career that I am on that level, that I deserve to be one of the three best players in the world right now. I think I proved with the win over Nadal this tournament, you know. Of course, I still didn't win against Roger, but I hope that moment will come as well.
So we're going to see. I'm really happy with my achievement right now, but I hope this is only the start.

Q. What was it like hearing yourself being introduced by Butch saying, "Tennis has a new star"?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: A big moment. Big moment. I wanted to go there and kiss him (laughter). But yeah, people probably think that I am the biggest potential of tennis right now. I feel very, very proud about it, and especially when I receive such a compliment from a person who is for a very, very long time in tennis. And I just hope that I'll become the best player one day.

Q. It's so important these days, I think, to be different, to have different elements in your game, different variety of shots. You used the drop shot both against Murray and today, and your volley in the last week has been tremendous. How important do you think those elements are to being a bit different, to being something a bit special?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Like you said, it's very, very important. That's what I was working on in the past few months with my coach and now in the past couple of weeks with Mark Woodforde, as well. I think Mark is great guy, great person. He was himself, you know, the best player in doubles in the world for a long time. He has a great volley, great touch. So he helped me, as well, a lot. And then my coach, they do a tremendous job.
I think everything's going well right now, especially, you know, tennis has changed a lot since 15 years. Today the players are playing much more points from the baseline, and they're returning much better. There is no more serve-and-volley players. So it's always nice to see somebody going, going for the shots, going for the volleys and the drop shots.

Q. Was it your idea to bring in Mark as an assistant, or was that your coach's idea?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, we've been together through that, you know. We were thinking, and I have a manager who actually contacted him. We spoke. I mean, I have a team. I always ask the parents for advice and everybody. So we make decisions together.

Q. Talk about the feeling of getting that final point, and you lay on the court. What's going through your head? Was that a relaxation or --
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, honestly, honestly the last game when I was 30-0 up, I was thinking about the victory. And then I made two bad mistakes, and I was in trouble, which is not supposed to happen. I'll work on that in the future.
But on the last point was really, I said, I'm going for the forehand, I don't care. If I make mistake, I break racquet. And then I just fell down to the ground. I was very happy, it was a very emotional moment for me.

Q. You've been in two Masters Series finals in a row. Were you as nervous going into this final, or was it a different kind of nervousness?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I was very nervous before the match, and that's for sure. I was very nervous. Usually throughout all my career in juniors tournaments as well, and seniors, I've always had much better score in the finals. I've won much more finals than I've lost. And I lost in Indian Wells, and now I came through and managed to do that second time in a row, to go to the finals.
I knew that Guillermo was in great shape, that's why. You're always nervous. If you don't have -- if you're not nervous, then something is wrong with you if you don't have any emotions.

Q. Did you feel a little more pressure because maybe this time you're a little more favored going into the match?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I felt pressure, that's for sure. But on the other hand as well, I was happy not to play against Federer and Nadal in the finals, because these two players are probably, they are playing their best tennis in the finals, in the last matches of the tournament.

Q. You initiated the hug. Usually it's the Spanish that initiate the hug.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Really? Now it's Serbian (laughing).

Q. Can you talk about that just a little? You obviously showed him a lot of support. And you said in the speech, after everything he had been through. What do you feel about your opponent today?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Sure. I honestly met him the first time here. I've seen him playing on the television and seen him maybe one time before.
But I met him here, and he's a fantastic guy. Fantastic guy. And really, with a lot of emotions playing. And I like these kind of players. Playing with a lot of emotions, who are always smiling and positive. That's great.
He deserves to be in the final. He was fighting for this tournament a lot. You see the Argentinian fans supporting him throughout all the tournament. It's always good to see something new in tennis.

Q. In Indian Wells you lost to Nadal, you lost in the finals. This time around you beat Nadal and win in the finals. Strategically, mentally what changes did you make from Indian Wells to here? What was the biggest difference you felt in yourself?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Like I said, after that match with Nadal, I always learn from the matches, from every match, especially from the matches which I lose. I always take some positive and negative things, which I did in the match, and try to make it better next time. That's what I succeeded to do, especially here in this tournament against Nadal.
You saw me totally different, totally different game, you know. I was more patient, but then more aggressive, and really tried to play him, to take his game and try to make him play as well. Because Nadal is the kind of player which likes to be a lot defensive, and then he's a counter-player. I've learned a lot. I'm very happy that I improved every week. I hope it stays that way.

Q. In the past you've had some issues with breathing problems on the court. Is that done, finished? Or is that still an issue for you?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: No, it's finished. I had surgery of the nose, and surgery of the nose two years ago, and now everything's okay.

Q. So now you're on this run, and moving to clay, what are your thoughts and expectations going to the clay season?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I'm going there with a lot of, obviously, self-confidence. And with a lot of -- okay, I know there is a lot of expectations right now because I think I'm No. 2 on the race right now, playing -- I am in the best shape of my life, playing the best tennis of my life, finals and title of the two Masters Series tournaments, going to the clay, which is one of my favorite surfaces. That's for sure.
Even though I -- you know, I can, like I said before, I can variate (sic). I can play a lot of different styles of the game which gives me a lot of advantage, so I hope I'll do well.

Q. You talked about how you learn from your losses. How do you do that? Do you watch tape, do you talk, what do you do?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I do everything what you said. I watch a bit of my game, but I don't like to watch too much. That's probably the job of the coach. I just don't like to watch myself.
I just speak with the coach, you know, we speak. We see what I did wrong and improve on the practice and on the match.

Q. Serbia doesn't have much of a tennis history. Are you proud of what you're doing?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I have to be proud. If I'm not proud, then something is wrong with me. You know, Serbia doesn't have a big tennis tradition. We had only Bobo Zivojinovic, who was No. 1 in doubles and top 20 singles like 15 years ago. Before him and after him, from Serbia, there was nobody actually in men's tennis.
In women's tennis, there was Monica Seles. She came to watch me today, so I'm very happy about that, as well, because she was one of my idols when I was young. My first coach is one of her coaches, as well. It's a great thing for my country.
Popularity-wise, tennis has grown a lot in our country. And you know, we have this tradition that every time some of the sports, basketball, whatever sport they make a big result, they wait them -- like the people, maybe 50,000, or maybe 100,000, waiting in front of the building government in the center of the city. So maybe I'll do it this time. Maybe I'll experience that.

Q. Did you talk to Monica after the match, Monica Seles?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I didn't talk to Monica. I talked to her yesterday. She probably left back.

Q. Does your play this month and Cañas' wins over Federer give you a little bit more hope that maybe you or someone else could actually take over the No. 1 spot from Roger this year?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Certainly. Every time you see somebody winning against Nadal or Federer, it gives you a new motivation, you know, confidence for yourself.
I use the opportunity now. In Indian Wells I was supposed to meet Roger in the quarters, but he was out. So I got to the finals here, I won against Nadal. So I just use my opportunity and I'm very happy that I'm consistent right now. So it's always good to see something new in tennis.

Q. Why did you give your racquet away, and how did you choose who to give it to?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I gave -- well, like I said before, it was a very emotional moment for me. So I was thinking even to put away my shoes and shorts and everything (laughter). But I said, okay, it's okay, it's okay. Television is here so I'll keep that. Well, I just probably saw a nice girl in the stands (laughter).

Q. How have you managed your emotions better on court? It seems like there's a difference between last year and this year?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Like I said, I improved a lot. And I knew that everything comes with the time. The experience I've got now is really valuable for me, and it's very valuable for the future. Since last year, I mean, I improved a lot, mentally and physically, and in the game as well. I expect that every year, you get older, you improve.

Q. But have you -- in a moment where you might have smashed your racquet last year, do you stop and think? Or how do you manage it?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: No, for me it's normal to smash my racquet. I'm an emotional player. You know, probably you are thinking about Goran Ivanesavich, or these guys from this territory coming and smashing their racquets, no. No, but I just like to show my emotions.
It's frustration, you know. You lose it's okay. Everything has limits, you know, if you do it properly. If it doesn't affect on your game in the continuing of the match, then it's okay.

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