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March 19, 2008

Novak Djokovic


THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. What is the level of the confidence at this point of the tournament comparing at the same time in Australia and getting close to that? Are you any better than then?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I think the characteristic of the top players is to play better and better, match after match. So I think I'm doing that. And I'm very happy to finish today's match in straight sets, knowing that Guillermo is a very tough opponent. He runs lot and he gives a lot of balls back.
Obviously I needed to be aggressive and just play my game and just try to, you know, finish the point as soon as possible but be patient at the same time. I did good, and I don't know if I can really compare a performance and level of the game from Australian Open and here in Indian Wells.
But one thing is for sure: I feel physically good and I'm looking forward to the upcoming matches.

Q. Was it tough to wait for your match to come on? Because the match before you was three hours. How tough is it to stay prepared?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, it was, yes, but this is a part of the sport. You just have to get used to it. I was trying to relax and get some energy and some food. Just the usual routine before the match. Of course, we were warming up on and off, but, you know, what can you do?

Q. You were very careful to talk about the future, but if you can just allow yourself a little bit considering the Australian, it's already better than last season. Do you feel this is your season?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, there is of course a lot of talks about that. I'm not trying to pay attention on those talks too much, because I don't want to have more pressure than I have.
I know that there is lost of expectations as the third player of the world. Obviously I have a role of the favorite in most of the matches I get in, especially on this surface, which is my favorite and my most preferred.
So I started the year in great shape, and I hope -- hopefully I can continue going on. Of course, I'm getting closer to the first two spots in the world. But still my goal is to just be consistent as much as I can, even more than last year in major events.

Q. Talk about the next round and what you know about your opponent. I don't know anything about him.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I know a lot about him. We played many times. Last meeting we had was in Vienna in the finals where I won in straight sets and I played one of the best tennis in my career. So I think he's a great player.
You know, he's doing well recently, and he won against some good players in this tournament. Baghdatis and Hyung-Taik Lee, of course. He's not going to have anything to lose tomorrow.
We going to play at 2:00. It's going to be very hot. The heat will be big, but of course it's same condition for both of the players.
I'll try to get a tactic ready. There is no secrets. We know each other for a long time, even from the junior circuit. And just be myself. Just be aggressive, as I always play.

Q. I happen to note you're out there on the lawn having some fun, kicking what we call a soccer ball here. How would you describe yourself as a soccer player or football player?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: We call it football.

Q. Yeah, I know that.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, yeah, when I was a kid, I always wanted to play football. But, of course desire for tennis was stronger. So I started playing tennis. But I even -- I always watched football games at home.
Wherever I go, I follow football. This is one of my favorite sports. This is something that I do jury recreationally just for fun with my team, with my coaches.
I just -- you know, I like it. It's a great atmosphere in the team. I always had great surroundings. I'm really happy that I have people in my team that can be really good friends off the court as well. It's really important for me.

Q. And of the other tennis players, who is the best football player around?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Oh, it's tough to say. Well, obviously the Spanish and Argentinians and South Americans. They really love football, so they have the best skills.

Q. Serbia has also a wonderful basketball and soccer team as well.

Q. Yeah, football. Thank you. But what it's very difficult to buy a tennis racquet now in Belgrade, and that is thanks to you and, of course, and Jelena, Ana, and Janko. Can you elaborate a little bit on that? What does that mean for the country?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, it means a lot. First of all, we have to consider that the tennis tradition is not long and not big in Serbia. Just recently, all the media attention and I think people attention is on tennis.
I can say that the tennis is No. 1 sport popularity-wise in our country. I'm very happy for that, because we been working hard for that. It's really nice to see a lot of female and male players from Serbia doing well, the people I grow up with. We are the nation of the team sports, as you said. Basketball, volleyball, waterball. These were our successful sports and still are. But obviously the people like something new, and now tennis is individual sport and attracts a lot of especially young kids to play, and it's just crazy. It's really nice to see that.
But still, we didn't have a tennis center, which is very much needed for those kids to develop into the professional players.

Q. Tsonga obviously lost a really close match against Nadal today. Do you expect him to be playing at a level for the rest the year where he can challenge the really top guys?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, if he believes, yes. He has all the elements in the game and the mental ability, and physically he's one of the strongest players in the tour in today's tennis.
It's a matter of belief in himself. If he really does believe that he can be consistent with the results and that he deserves to be there in the top, he can be.
I mean, he showed it in many tough matches in Australia, so there is no reason not to believe that. But again, it's his first serious professional approach, I can say, to the ATP Tour and it's not going to be easy for him mentally to stay consistent.

Q. Did that self-belief kick in for you here last year, or was it before that?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yes, yes. This was one of the turning points, I can say, yeah.

Q. What do you take from Rafa's performance today coming back from 5-2?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yeah, it was an amazingly long match, so -- well, you know, Rafa, he's used to the long matches already. He's been playing like this for a couple of years. He's mentally one of the strongest players in the world, and of course physically.
So he's the kind of player that never gives up. That's, I think, what Tsonga learned today. Even though he was serving for the match and having a lot of opportunities, there is no giving up for Nadal.
He's going to play every point even if he's losing easy, you know, in the first set. So it's great to see him fighting through, so I think he deserves it.

Q. This issue about believing -- a couple years ago it was just Nadal and Federer. Now you're in that group. There are really three people they're talking about. The differences between you Nadal and Federer, on any given day, is the believing the biggest part of it, who believes the best that day and doesn't lose their confidence?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Exactly, and the consistency, as well, of the high level of play and consistency of the good results on the major events. Probably that's the most important thing now between us three.
Again, looking at the game in general, we are more or less very much different from each other. You know, we have different styles. So it's good to see some variety in the top of the men's tennis and it's good for the fans to follow up.

Q. Andy Murray was just in here talking a little bit about his actual dreams and how that sort of helped him in his own thinking. Have you had some interesting dreams about tennis? I know it's an unusual question, but I wanted it ask it?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I think everybody has dreams about a lot of things they want to achieve and experience in the life. I think everybody's dream is to win a Grand Slam. I was always -- I was dreaming too to be in that position one day and I achieved it. So I was saying after the Australian Open it's like a dream come true, so it really is. But, you know, everybody has a different approach to the tennis. Everybody has different desires and different wishes to succeed.

Q. I was talking about like dream dreams. Like when you wake up in the morning and you're winning Roland Garros.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I don't understand.

Q. Literal dreams when you're sleeping.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I don't know. Let's go to next question. Enough with the dreaming.

Q. I was just looking up on the Internet and your karaoke at the French Open was very popular. Can you talk about that? Also, I was talking to Lleyton Hewitt and Svetlana Kuznetsova, and they made it sound like they were tricked into it. Can you talk about how that all came about? The "I Will Survive"?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, it was spontaneous. It was not planned or something. They just came up to me the day before we were supposed to do it and said, You want to do it? I said, Okay.
You know, I never seen it. Actually, I seen it the year before and I liked it. It's something new. It's great.
Well, you have a lot of time obviously during the day in your daily-basis routine. You have to practice, play match or whatever. But still, you have a lot of time. This is something that helps you relax and keep your mind on something else. It was a little bit of improvisation by me, taking off the shirt, but obviously I got into it a lot and -- but it is a nice experience and I will be more than pleased to do it again.

Q. What will you sing this year?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I don't know.

Q. Thought about it?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I'm thinking of some songs. I'll keep it as a secret.

Q. There's a top 10 list and you were No. 1. Who are the other players?

Q. Could you have done it without taking off your shirt and still been No. 1?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: No. I was surprised of being No. 1, because I thought for sure there was someone better. I was screaming in the microphone, just taking off the shirt and obviously some girls voted for me.

Q. Who did you like of the ones that you did see? Which ones impressed you?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I liked Rafa's "La Bamba." Yeah, I haven't seen all. I like the year before that Hewitt was singing "Eye of the Tiger" and it was characteristic for him.

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