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August 28, 2007

Novak Djokovic



Q. Nice start to the campaign.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: It's always good to get the first matches done in the fastest possible way. It's good to win the first round in straight sets. You know, a lot of people expected a great match between me and Ancic. I'm sure it would be a good match to see. He's a great competitor, great player.
He was off for five, six months. Unfortunately he tried to come back but in last month he play couple of tournaments but got another injury. He had to withdraw.
For looking in my position, you know, I had a little bit less pressure because I played against lucky loser, but I didn't want to underestimate my opponent. I know him for long time. He's my generation. I was a big favorite, but I tried to keep it up.
I was a bit nervous on the start. I didn't play my game. But then I managed to take over the control and finish in straight sets.

Q. You had a very good crowd. How do you feel about having so many Americans who may not know you come over to see you?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Feels fantastic. You know, I honestly didn't expect so many people to watch my match. Again, saying if I play against Ancic, of course, I expected to see a lot of people.
But, you know, again, I'm No. 3 of the world so people come to see. I'm still young, you know. I made a big breakthrough this year, so everybody's really interested the way I play. It was the first match.
It was a fantastic atmosphere. A lot of crowd was behind me. I had a great support from my countrymen and from Americans, which is very important for the future, for the next matches, upcoming matches.

Q. How is your overall hard court game? Are you playing now like you did in Montréal or like you did in Cincinnati?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, in Cincinnati I didn't play so well. I didn't have time to recover and get ready for that. In Montréal I played probably the best tennis of my life, Montréal and Miami.
But I'll give probably a bit more advantage to Montréal because I won against three best players of the world for quarterfinals, semifinals and finals.
After that tournament I got more confidence and more belief that I can do well and I can surprise and get far into the Grand Slam here in US Open.
Obviously, hard court is my favorite surface, the surface where I play my best tennis, and probably I'm most dangerous for the top guys here.
But, you know, looking at the past years in US Open I didn't do so well. I played two times third round. But this year is much different. You know, I had great results, impressive year, No. 3 of the world.
My best results were on this surface. So it's a positive thing for the continuation of the tournament.

Q. You've become the hot guy here. Is the business side of winning here on your mind, as well, winning in New York City?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: It's not my job to do these things off the court. That's why I have people who are working for me, you know, PR manager and manager, rest of the guys who are taking care of these business things, media, activities off the court.
Of course it's important always to promote yourself on best possible way. Today it's all about the business, entertainment. Tennis is not such an entertaining sport I can say as basketball and football, soccer is. We are trying our best to present, promote the tennis more and more. We push the crowd, give the crowd something to cheer about, to feel the energy and the excitement.
I think it's getting even better. Here in States it's a special atmosphere because the fans are really trying to enjoy. It's a lot of entertainment. Sometimes it can disturb the player if they're walking and talking, but it's a great atmosphere. It's something new. It's always good to see.

Q. What is the biggest reason you are a good player? Obviously you have talent, but what has brought you along? Family? Federation? School of tennis?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I can talk till tomorrow about that. I can say it was difficult to practice and develop into the professional tennis player coming from the country which didn't have -- never had such a big tennis tradition, so I had to leave in the early ages to somewhere else.
But still I was lucky to have always the best surroundings, good people with the good intentions with a lot of knowledge about tennis. Of course, as a base, I always had big support from the family. In the end, you know, it was me. I was pushing all the time and really had this hunger for the success. It all comes together.

Q. Serbian tennis is the big tennis story this year. Does the success of Ana and Jelena put pressure on you?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: No, not at all. Actually, it motivates me more. I really want to do well when I see them playing well. It's normal always to have pressure. That's a normal thing. If you don't have pressure, then something is wrong with you.
Obviously Federer doesn't look that he has pressure, but he has. Everybody has pressure. If you're playing well, doing well, you have a lot of expectations, people watching you as one of the favorites on every tournament. There's always that pressure.
It's just a matter of you, how you deal with that pressure, if you mentally can break through.

Q. Do you and Ana and Jelena talk while you're on tour?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: We never talk (laughter). Of course, we talk. Of course, we are good friends. We grew up together, especially with Ana. She's my age, my generation. We basically started playing tennis together. It's always good to see somebody you grew up with doing well.

Q. A couple years ago you were one of five teenagers with a lot of potential. How have you distanced yourself since then from the pack to get to No. 3?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, yeah, it was always flattering to hear from the people and even the exchampions like McEnroe, Edberg and everybody saying that I was one of that guys that had the biggest potential to succeed in tennis, which was great for me.
You know, I didn't try to put too much attention on that. I tried to just focus on what I do, on tennis, practice hard. I knew that I had to go through a probably more difficult way than rest of the guys did, the young guys, because I was coming from the country, as I said, which was a small country with not too much financial support, sponsors.
I had to go through a difficult way. But looking back now, it's a positive thing for me because it made me stronger mentally.

Q. What specifically from being No. 16 last year to No. 3 last year is different about you? What is better?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I mean, a lot of things. If you ask me about the game, I'll probably say that I'm more consistent from the baseline. I am stronger physically. It's one year, and in this stage, in the ages of 19, 20, one year is a lot because you are trying to break it through mentally, to work hard.
Physically probably I'm much stronger and I'm able to hold on through the five-set matches, through difficult matches. Again, mentally I'm stronger because of a lot of tournaments, a lot of matches, a lot of experience. So all together.

Q. Roger Federer has said because you've never made it to a Grand Slam final he doesn't view you yet as a true challenge to him and obstacle to him at this year's US Open. In your opinion, does he respect you, your game?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, you know, I'm not the one who can judge his opinion. Everybody has a right for an opinion, of course. I respect what he says. Again, I have only the nice words for him. He's a gentleman on and off the court.
I've played him a couple of times. I had this opportunity. I lost four times out of five times. I won the last time. It's normal that still he thinks that, of course, I cannot be the biggest threat to him because, he's right, I didn't get to the finals of the Grand Slam.
But I'm slowly getting to that experience. I played two semifinals of a Grand Slam, one quarterfinal. Won couple of Masters Series, major tournaments. So slowly getting there.
I really don't try to put too much pressure on myself because of him commentating that or somebody else. I just try to go step by step because I'm only 20 years old. I'm not really in the rush to be No. 1 player of the world until end of this year.
I really look forward to the next challenges.

Q. When you beat all three of those guys, it's rare that you see a player having a breakthrough in one place. What did it feel like? As the day went by, did you feel the confidence more? What was that like to live through that?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yeah, well, it was the most impressive week of my career. But what I try to do is not to be too happy, too satisfied with my win over Roddick or Nadal. I tried to just look and focus on myself on next match and recover.
I played day after day, which is difficult. Finish late with Nadal. Next day started with Roger. I really impress a lot of people, and myself, that I manage to recover and really play well in that final.
It felt great. I felt great. After the tournament, as I said before, more confidence, more belief, more trust in myself. Looking at generally in this year, I made some amazing results. I honestly didn't expect that in the start of the year. But playing on the hard courts, I feel most comfortable on the court here.
US Open now, it's the last Grand Slam, one of the four biggest tournaments in tennis. Everybody's motivated, even myself. I really want to do well. This is the obviously the Grand Slam where still I didn't pass the third round, so we'll see what happens.

Q. How much of an ambition it is of yours to make tennis a conversation of a third player, a three-way rivalry?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: That's what I'm trying to do on the court and people around here, off the court as well, to push me into this group of three players. But still it's difficult. They're two best players of the world, two most dominant players in today's tennis. They win 90% of the tournaments basically, the most important ones.
Everybody wants to see a match between Federer and Nadal on any surface. It's tough to get attention on you. But, again, as I said, I'm not paying too much attention on media, stuff around off the court. My job is to do well on the tennis court and to start winning. When you start winning in tournaments and matches, automatically you get the attention on yourself.

Q. The other day you talked about your new impression of Roger. What do you do with him?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I'm just doing impression, nothing else.

Q. What are you doing?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Everything you see him do on the court I try to do. But it's just for fun. I want to make people laugh and enjoy a little bit, bring something new.
I'm not trying to make fun of everybody, you know. I don't think that he got that wrong if he saw it. I don't think he saw it.

Q. Is your family building a tennis facility?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yes. As I said, we still don't have professional conditions and facilities back in our country for tennis, even though tennis is probably No. 1 sport now popularity-wise in our country. We really deserve that.
We really deserve at least one National Tennis Center where we and rest of the -- the priority is, of course, the kids, the talents, to give them opportunity to practice and develop an help them out so they can have a bit easier way to the professional tennis.
Serbia is a country, government and everybody, is trying to build a National Tennis Center. The other hand, I'm trying with my family to have a tennis center by our own as well.

Q. You will own it privately, your family?

Q. It will be open to all?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: To everybody, yeah, of course. I mean, one of the ideas is to help the young kids practicing. We'll give to the biggest talents of course the best conditions and best facility they can have.

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