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January 12, 2008

Novak Djokovic


THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Do you wish to make a statement?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: That's a good way to start (smiling).
No, I'm happy to be here, back in Australian Open, you know, one of the four strongest tournaments in the sport. I didn't do so well in the past, except last year when I started to do better here on the Australian hard courts. I won Adelaide and I played the last 16 here. I lost to Federer, which is understandable.
Of course, it's always good to be back in the city and in the tournament where you did well, where you feel good. I had my best year in 2007. I reached the third place of the world, made a lot of great results in the major events, which was one of the priority goals. And now I can only hope to be consistent with the results and to continue playing on a high level.
You know, I'm motivated. I'm playing with a lot of confidence. You know, I started playing well here in Australia. I played the Hopman Cup, though. It's a prestigious tournament, but still I won my four matches. I feel confident. I made some couple of changes. I changed my strings.
You know, it's always on the start of the season, the players are trying to get used to a new things. You know, you always try something new. You always try to improve. So I think I improved on a couple of things, elements in my game, which I was planning to do with my coach. I'm really looking forward to the upcoming season.

Q. It was such a huge year for you last year. Many, many matches, many tournaments. I guess there was probably a little bit of burnout towards the end of the year. How did you recharge?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I wasn't really trying to think about the finish of the year 'cause, as you said, it was a little bit unexpected to lose all three matches in Shanghai, even though I had amazing season. Probably there was a lot of expectations. But just a lot of things happened in that I think October, November, two, three months before the beginning of the season. Right of after Madrid, I had this little surgery of the wisdom tooth. This came out. Plus, you know, the really exhausting season, a lot of matches, you just, you know, want to have some time off.
It all came out in the end in a negative way, unfortunately, even though I wanted to do well in my debut in a Masters Cup. But of course, you know, there are many more years to come in front of me. I took the best out of it. You know, I know what I made bad and which were the mistakes. My coach was there. Everybody was there. Now I know that I will have to approach that kind of tournaments in a different way.
It was just mental problem a little bit in Shanghai I can say, and physical as well. So it's not end of the world. You know, I'm just 20 years old and I have still a lot more Masters Cups, I hope, to come.

Q. Do you feel fresh now?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I do. I do, yes. I had holidays, which was about two, two and a half to three weeks long, which was really necessary for me, even though I started my preparation period a bit later, which is as well important. You know, vacation was more important for me. I needed to recover my body and get fresh into the new season, which I did, as I said, on the start. I've been trying to work, you know, recently on some elements in my game which I think that are missing so I can be one of the challengers for the No. 1 or No. 2 spot in the world.
I think I deserve to be here. I showed my quality in 2007 many times, a lot of different surfaces. You know, considering the fact that my best performances were on the outdoor hard courts, I can hope for a good result here in Australian Open.

Q. You came close to winning the US Open last year. What do you have to improve to win this tournament?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, yes, US Open was amazing experience, a first final in a Grand Slam for me. Of course, maybe that lack of experience in the Grand Slam finals was a crucial in that match. And even though I had a lot of chances, I missed them. And if you miss all those chances against a player like Roger, you know, you don't get any more chances.
You know, I'm happy with all that, all the season, and especially the hard court season in States. So these courts are similar to the ones in Indian Wells and US Open. So, you know, as I said, I can hope for the good result. But still there is a lot of good players around the world who are trying to improve, who are trying to get as far as they can in a Grand Slam, because Grand Slam is a specific competition. It's 128 players and everybody is trying to get far. So it's not going to be easy, but I think I need to improve my volley game a little bit more. I have a good groundstroke game. I have a lot of chances in the point and in match to get to the volley and just finish off the point earlier and just save some energy, which is going to be much better for me.
I've been really trying to work on that. It's been going okay, you know, but it's not a thing that it can happen over the night. You know, it takes time. I'm really taking it easy. I'm not in the rush.

Q. Roger's limited preparation, does that make him more vulnerable at this tournament or not?

Q. Yes.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Of course, I mean, that's maybe a question for him. We don't need to talk about him too much. He proved that he's the best player in the world in the past three, four years, and he really deserves that spot and that honor. Of course, he's one of the best ever that played this game.
Now, you know, I'm one of the players who is really trying to challenge him in that matter. You know, as a 20-year-old, I reached the third place of the world, but I'm really not trying to rush anywhere. I know the way he's playing now on any surface he's not really thinking of letting go of that first place in the world. We cannot forget, you know, Rafa Nadal is right behind him already for three years trying to get to the best place in the world. Obviously their rivalry is the biggest rivalry in men's tennis.
But, you know, I've been recently making a lot of good results and people started, you know, talking about -- more about three players, you know, not any more just two. So it's a nice thing to hear and it's very flattering. But I just really need to focus on my life, on my career, and then, you know, try to achieve my lifetime goal.

Q. You talked about how you had a great year that made it into a top three as opposed to a top two. You separated yourself. Could you imagine a situation where Andy Murray has a similar year like you had and makes it a top four?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I think that's realistic, in my opinion, because he's very talented player and he has a lot of potential. You know, I know him all my life. Last year he had this, you know, problems with the injuries. It was, you know, not easy for him to hang in there. He almost reached the Masters. He was just one match away.
I think he's been willing to get to the top five in the world a lot, very much. He wants to prove himself. I think he's gonna make it. Of course, if he stays out of the injuries, just be healthy, he has all the elements and all the things he needs to be there, you know, to be a top five player. I think he proved many times in the past two years.

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