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August 7, 2007

Novak Djokovic


THE MODERATOR: Questions for Novak.

Q. Nicolas Kiefer can be an unusual player to play sometimes. He goes in great spurts, can come up with these amazing shots, then sometimes goes away. How did you find the match?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: That's right. He's very difficult opponent to play against on any surface. Especially the hard courts, bit faster courts, as grass. I played him in Wimbledon this year. It was the longest match I ever played. It was five days because of the bad weather (laughter). It was a bit frustrating.
But, you know, I managed to hold on in the end. I'm sure that he wanted to change something, wanted to be more aggressive and try to surprise me, which he did. On the start of the match, right away, first game I served, I didn't put a lot of first serves in, and he tried to go to the net right away, to be aggressive. That was his style. But I managed to hold on, stay focused and get it over in straight sets.

Q. How long did it take after Wimbledon for all the injuries to get better?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, you know, I had a really long season. Since November last year I didn't have any vacation or holidays. I was working all the time. Honestly I didn't expect to get through to the top of the men's tennis so fast. I had a lot of matches. I think after Nadal, I had most matches played this year.
It was necessary for me to take a break, which I did after the Wimbledon. For a week I was off. I managed to heal my injuries, the foot I had, the back, shoulder. Then I played this one tournament on clay, which was okay, not so important. I didn't get ready so much. Then I got sick.
You know, I'm trying to recover now, be physically on the first place ready for the US Open Series because I feel confident on the court and I show my quality on this surface, in Indian Wells and Miami. I show that I can play really good tennis, especially on this surface. I can expect some good results in these couple of tournaments.

Q. What is your favorite surface?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Probably hard court. Probably hard court. You know, especially this year after that convenient success in Miami especially, not losing a set, I can say that that is my favorite surface.

Q. You said you didn't expect to rise as quickly. What did you expect?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Honestly, I didn't expect a lot of things. I just tried to work and stay concentrated and just go step by step and wait for the results. Sooner or later I knew that the result's gonna come if I stay on the right way, in the right direction, which happened in the end.
I always have some goals. My goal after the good start of the year was to reach the Masters. Looking at the points unofficially, I am in the Masters right now, which is a great thing. I mean, it's a great achievement.
Again, I'm satisfied, I'm happy, but I'm not going to stop here. I'll try to do well in the next part of the year.

Q. You've risen to 3. Pretty long list of guys who held that No. 3 spot since Rafa became No. 2. A lot of people think you're going to be the guy to break the lock on those two spots. Do you think that?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: You got to hope. You got to hope for the best, look in the front. I always try to motivate myself, have some high goals. My lifetime goal was always to be the best. I'm really trying all the time to get to that place.
I'm now third on the world, fourth. But anyway, you know, as I said, I didn't expect to go rise so fast. Again, I show my quality and I think I deserve to be there. But I'm only 20 years old. There is a lot of time. Hopefully this is going to be my life for the next 10, 15 years. I'm going to play professionally. Even if I don't make my lifetime goal, I'm going to be happy 'cause anyway I dedicated myself to a great sport.

Q. As a player, how do you live with the fact that the top two spots are practically untouchable?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, as I said before, I'm not trying to think about that, about negative things like "practically untouchable." No, I'm trying to think about myself, what I need to improve so I can get to those places one day.
They are pretty far away looking at the points and the stats. They're basically winning 90% of the tournaments, of the big major ones. It's a bit maybe frustrating for the rest of the players. Again, in another hand, you got to look positive, you got to find the motivation and just try to keep your focus, try to reach those places one day.

Q. Forget about Roger and Rafa as players.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I can't (smiling).

Q. What do you like about them as people or personalities?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Most of the players are really great guys, great persons. This is individual sport. You know, you get to see those guys basically every week, every two weeks. We are getting along with each other great. We are not like friends forever or whatever, but we are in a good relation.
I think they're both great guys. There's no problem. I never had any problems with any tennis player. Of course, it's matter of person. Everybody's different.

Q. You really don't want to talk about the underwear thing?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I'll just keep that on the side, try and hope that the picture is not going to come out.

Q. Was it planned? Did you go in there expecting to do it?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: No, I didn't. Actually, I didn't. I just wanted to have fun, whatever. I just tried to enjoy on and off the court as much as I can. We had a lot of fun. There was a lot of players, about 15 or 20 players, backstage. Mostly we had a lot of fun, whatever that means.
Yeah, we went like for catwalk two times. Cameras were off. I had a little chat with James, said, How much would you offer me if I go in underwear? He said, Well, pretty much. So I said, Okay, let me try, but I don't want to go alone. So Marcos was there. I talked to Marcos. Marcos wanted to do it. Then he thought about the whole situation, what would happen probably, which is happening with me right now (laughter). He said, No, I'm just going to leave it. I have my own ego and stuff, I better leave it to you.
I didn't want to go alone. One Italian guy came up, Adriano Biasella, he came up, he said, I'm going to do it, so we went together. It was pretty strange. The people were confused. Who are these guys? What are they doing? What are they thinking?
But it was a lot of fun.

Q. How much money did you and James agree to?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I leave it. No, I don't want to say. No, I didn't take the money. He said, There you go, the money is there, it was worth it. But I said, No, I don't want to take the money. I just like to tickle him a little bit, how much money. But it was good.

Q. What's the funniest reaction you've had from the other players?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: They were surprised 'cause I couldn't stop talking and laughing backstage. I just had a great time backstage with all those guys. It was really a great atmosphere. We just started talking, laughing all the time, all the time. They were not too much surprised I went in underwear because they knew how I was. But they were sorry that I didn't get a chance to go alone on the catwalk dressed because they wanted to see a little dance. Next time.

Q. This tour can be such a grind. There's so much work. You seem to have a lot of fun with it. Is that what for you gets you from place to place?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, again, depends from the person. I'm looking on that as, okay, tennis is my life, is my job, but it's not everything. You got to enjoy your life next to the tennis, next to all this traveling and everything. You got to use your opportunities. Tennis has given you opportunity to visit the places, meet the cultures, meet the people, do something you want to do. Of course, there is not a lot of free time.
Again, for me it's really enjoyable time. Again, as I said, hopefully this is going to be my life for 10, 15 years. I'm going to play the same tournaments probably every year, year after year, year after year. You got to do everything with a smile, otherwise you gonna freak out.

Q. Do you try to get out into the cities you visit?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yeah. As I said, I'm trying to use every chance to go a little bit and see the cities. I've been pretty much throughout all the world. Here in Montréal, this is the only place I've been in Canada. It was two years ago I was first time here and now again. I like the city. I like the people. They're outgoing. You can have a good conversation with them. It's a lot of fun.

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