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January 25, 2008

Novak Djokovic


THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Are you surprised to be sitting here as the winner of that match?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, honestly, everything is going so fast for me. As I was saying, if you tell me at the start of last year that I will play four consecutive semifinals in Grand Slams and two finals, I would accept it right away. That's no doubt.
So I can say that it's a little bit surprising. But, again, I've been working very hard in the past year and a half, so it's paying off right now.

Q. Your form under pressure, is that a factor that pleased you tonight?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, yes, that was one of the positive facts, I think, in tonight's match. I was able to deal with the pressure in the best possible way. And if you do that against the best player in the world, you know, you should get the positive outcome, which resulted of course with the win tonight.
I'm very happy that in crucial moments my serve was serving me, and it was probably my best element in the game tonight in the important moments. So it is a positive thing for the future.

Q. What do you think you actually gained from having the experience of playing him in the US Open final that you brought onto the court tonight?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: As I was saying before, you know, you always learn something from the matches against Federer or Nadal or whoever you play. And obviously everybody was trying to figure out the way they can win against Roger.
I knew that I have to believe in myself on the first place, and I have to be positive on the court, not nervous, just to stay with him all the time, and be aggressive. That's what I did tonight. You know, I showed some impressive tennis throughout all these two weeks, but I'm very, very especially happy with my performance tonight.

Q. What was going through your mind being down 5-3 in the first set?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, as I said, you know, I was just trying to keep the momentum, you know, just keep it going, not to think about the circumstances, you know, I was a break down, I'm already looking at the second set.
No, I was trying to really focus and play basically every point every game. And only in that way, you know, I was able to win in the straight sets.

Q. Why did you say that you had the feeling to play against two opponents at the end of the game?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Actually, no. Today it was quite difficult for me. You know, it's understandable crowd was a little bit more for him, because he's defending champion and No. 1 player of the world. But, you know, hopefully it's going to be better in the next match. That's what I hope for.
But as a finalist and as a pretty much experienced player I've been through a lot of situations like this, so this is another big experience for me, playing in front of a full house. You can't have always a crowd behind you. So we'll see what happens on Sunday.

Q. Did you feel Federer was the same player that you played in New York?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I didn't pay attention on him too much, you know. Was he performing the same way in US Open and here? I can't say exactly right. Why? Because I was performing better.
I was more patient and I didn't allow him to be aggressive and to play his style. So I was the one who was in the control of the match, so I think I deserved to win.

Q. What do you make of the last 24 hours when you've done what you've done to Federer and Tsonga did what he did to Nadal? Is it a very significant moment, do you think, in men's tennis?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I think it is. I think every sport is waiting to have some new faces on the tour. Tsonga is coming up. He's just amazing athlete. He's been performing some impressive tennis in these two weeks - as I did. I didn't still lose even a set here in Australian Open, which is amazing.
It's gonna be interesting very much to see, you know, young players playing against each other. Obviously, we will not have anything to lose. We will have, you know, motivation more, even though looking at the rankings I would be the favorite.
But it's finals, so anything can happen.

Q. At what point in the match did you feel like, yes, this is in my control; he's not going to come back; and if I continue to play at this level this will really be mine, this victory?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I was feeling it from the first moment. I was trying to feel it from the first moment, you know. Just as I said to keep that positive line and positive thoughts in my head all the time and not to have so much ups and downs in my game, which I did in our past matches.
You know, in these important moments, especially in US Open, I wasn't able to stay focused. I think I was more afraid of winning a set or a match, so that cost with a loss in this US Open, even though I think I played really, really well.
So as I said, I learned and I took out of that match a lot of things that I need to change so I could get a positive outcome. Today I was into the match all the time. On the start I was pretty nervous, you know. I knew that if I start to play a little bit worse, you know, if I start to make some unforced errors he's gonna use it right away. That's why he's No. 1.
So he was a break up, but I managed to come back. I think this was the turning point in the match. Since then I really tried to relax and be aggressive.

Q. I think Kuerten was the last player who won three sets to love with Federer, but I don't remember ever Federer losing four times his serve in five consecutive games. When he was up 5-3 he lost on the 10th game, the 12th game. Then he lost again on the fourth game of the second set and then again on the fifth. Do you think that it was that you were serving pretty well or that he wasn't serving that well?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Do I need to say anything else? Stats say it all. I was intending to be from the start aggressive, especially on his second serve. And, you know, I was well-prepared for the match. You know, if he wasn't serving, of course he had problems, he was struggling with the serve. Why? Because I made a lot of pressure. It's not because he was struggling.
You know, if you put pressure on somebody it's not easy to maintain the consistency of the serve.

Q. It's the first time in almost three years that Federer is not in a Grand Slam final. For you it's a big achievement. What does it mean for the world of tennis?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I just said, you know, it means a lot to see some new faces in the finals, some adidas players, of course (laughter). I think adidas will be very, very happy to see us playing. Happier than us probably (smiling).
But, yeah, you know, it's amazing for the sport. I think the dominance of Federer and Nadal, as well, especially in the men's tennis, was just amazing the last couple of years. So I think it's great for the media, for tennis lovers all around the world, to see something new.

Q. You said your ambition was always to be No. 1. Having watched Roger handle this pressure, knowing the way you've been gunning for him, can you imagine what it's like to be him?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I think that's a question for him. That's not a question for me. But he knows it best 'cause I never been in his situation. Hopefully I will.

Q. What I mean is that kind of pressure. You're talking about pressure in a match.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, pressure is something which is natural. I mean, if you don't have pressure then something is wrong with you. As a professional tennis player, as a top -- one of the top players in the world, you always have a lot of expectations and a lot of pressure on your back. You know, you should get far in the tournament, you should win the tournament.
He's a special case because he's expected to win everywhere he goes on any surface. So it's not easy, of course. But for me was the less pressure maybe today 'cause I was playing against a better-ranked player, you know. But I really wanted to win. I didn't have anything to lose. I was just, you know, going for the shots.

Q. Does it change anything, because you were always the underdog in those big matches so far?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Till this year, right (smiling)?
But, yeah, it's kind of strange, you know. As a 20-year-old you get to the finals of a Grand Slam as a favorite, which is a little bit strange for me.
I feel confident about the final, though. I mean, as I said before, finals is something that is very special for any player to achieve and to get to that stage. And, of course, you're gonna forget about all the problems, all the energy losses or whatever. All the past matches. You're just going to give it all because it's the last match and it's a Grand Slam.
I think both of us would be very, very happy to hold that trophy. So it's gonna be interesting to see who is going to deal with the pressure more better and who is going to perform better.
Of course, looking at the stats, he only, I think, lost a set or two, you know, throughout all the tournament, and I haven't lost even one set. So we'll be pretty fresh for that final.

Q. You're a player that knows how to use emotion to play better. Did the crowd motivate you just like the time violation seemed to motivate you?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, my brothers told me actually now just 10, 15 minutes ago, It's great that you got the violation. You started playing better. But I wasn't thinking at that moment in that direction, you know. I was a bit frustrated.
But, you know, it's all sport. In that moment, sometimes you can't control it. And why I was maybe taking too much time, which is not something strange for me, though, because I was, you know, trying to relax, you know, get focused, to get some energy, get some air, be fresh for every point. I wasn't really trying to, you know, get him out of the momentum or something like that. It's not in my head.
But referee, I think the only slight mistake of the referee is that he did it on the very crucial point and very crucial moment. So it could go either way. It was 5-3 and deuce in second set. That's a bit difficult moment to give a code violation to somebody.

Q. Have you seen any Tsonga matches? Were you surprised?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yeah, of course. I've seen many of his matches. As I think everybody, I was impressed with the way he plays. Obviously, as he was saying on the interviews after the matches, you know, he's just living the dream. For him it's a great achievement.
You know, I'm happy to play with some younger player, you know, somebody else. So we never played against each other, so it's going to be a new experience. You know, what a way to play, you know, in the finals of a Grand Slam.
He was really playing well, especially in the semifinals. Nothing to lose. Something like that I might expect in the finals. But I'll try to recover and get the tactic ready with my coach.

Q. Your opponent has 24 hours extra to prepare. Is that a significant advantage, do you think?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, you know, more time you have to -- the more time off you have I think is better for everybody, but I don't feel too tired and exhausted. You know, I won all my matches in straight sets. Even though today I'm mentally pretty exhausted. I'm still on the court, in the match, you know. I'm very, very happy.
But tomorrow is another day. It's good that I can have a day and a half of rest and preparation, and I'm sure we gonna both be very fresh for the match.

Q. Do you feel like your experience in big matches will work for you on Sunday, given that he's played so few matches because of his injuries and you've played a lot more and played in a Grand Slam final before?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: With the way he played I don't think so. No, I mean, you can say, looking at the stats and past tournaments in the past year and a half or two, I have more experience in these important matches, and I have been already in the Grand Slam finals.
But, as I said, it doesn't mean that it's going to be crucial at that stage, you know, in the match, 'cause it's very dangerous to play against somebody who is first time in a Grand Slam final who has nothing to lose. So I think he's going to go for the shots.

Q. Can you solve an argument I'm having with a commentary colleague. Do we pronounce your name Djokovic or Djokovic?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: You still don't know how to pronounce my surname. Djokovic. It's very difficult for you, right (smiling)?

Q. Did you speak to Janko at all?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: He's at the moment on the place where I, as well, wish to be, where I started playing tennis. He's in a mountain resort doing snowboard.

Q. You wish to be there now?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: No, I'm joking. Of course, I wish to be here and finish it off. It's amazing feeling to be in the finals.
I'll join him after the finals, after I come back there. Yeah, I spoke to him. He said, you all know, I mean, you played against Roger many times. He gave me a lot of support, so it's nice.

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