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March 23, 2008

Novak Djokovic


THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. You took off your cap, and then you pulled three aces out of your hat. How did you do that?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: It was like I pull out three aces from the sleeve, right?

Q. Yeah.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, yeah, I lost habit playing with the hat but I needed to because of the heat, is really big, so I had to -- I had to protect myself from the sun, but, you know, that was a crucial moment and it was the turning point in the whole match. If I didn't come up with the three aces, it could go either way.

Q. Should we name it maybe Serbian Wells now?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yeah. (laughter.)

Q. What happened in the second set, Novak? What was the struggle?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I was break up, and then I was 5-3, Love-30, he served out good, but anyhow, I should have used my opportunities. And I knew before the match that he is a big server and he's going to go for the shots and I just need to calm down, be patient and wait for my chances, which I did well in the first set and start of the second, but then suddenly I was nervous in the moments when I needed to keep my focus and calm down, and of course the result was unforced errors which would be crucial for me throughout the match.

Q. How does it feel when you've won the first Grand Slam of the year, now you've won the first Masters of the year. Pretty impressive start. Why do you think it's suddenly coming together for you?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: It's a big run. Well, obviously I'm getting all things together, and I started believing in myself much more than I used to last year. You know, when you start winning the major events, you obviously have proved to yourself in the first place to everybody else that you have quality to be there at the top, and it's just a matter of mental ability and mental strength.
I worked on that, you know, throughout these two years, and I think I gained that with experience. But on the other hand, I know that to be here and to make such a great achievements, you need to work hard and that's what I'm doing. So I hope -- I hope I can keep the momentum going.

Q. What would you consider for after this fabulous start a successful year for you? What would you consider a successful year?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, it's been a dream start, of course. Before I started playing this season, I said that my two goals is to be consistent with the results, I reach the Masters and hopefully win one Grand Slam. I did all that in very, very small amount of time.
But again, I don't want to stop here, even though I've been playing fantastic, and I'm lucky enough to have a lot of important tournaments on this surface, which suits me the best, and I just try -- I'll try to keep going in Miami, and I'm defending champion there. But coming up from Indian Wells as, you know, tournament winner, it's much easier to play.

Q. Do you think that this huge professional success changed you as a person at all?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: No. As a person, no. Of course, there are some things which you can't stop, and things change in the life. Of course you can't maybe do some things and that you want to, that you used to do when you didn't make such a big success in getting popular. But as a person, I'm really trying to stay with both legs on the earth and just be focused on the tennis, because that's what I do, and then just, you know, be around the important people.

Q. What's more dangerous for you in the situation like playing a guy who has a big game and throwing your rhythm out and end points quickly or a guy who can stay up there and grind you with like a Rafael?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, you have a different approach to different players, and Rafa and Mardy are two very differential players. Rafa is a grinder, and he runs a lot. He doesn't give you a lot of free points, and he produces a lot of spin.
Then you have totally opposite, Mardy, who has a huge serve and he plays pretty flat and goes for his shots, and he doesn't like long rallies, long points.
So I knew that today I would have to have a different approach, a little bit, try to be patient and wait for chances. Obviously he didn't serve so well today, as I maybe expected, as he did in last couple of matches. So that probably helped me to win those service games of his.

Q. If someone had told you when you and Ivanovic were practicing together as kids that you would win back-to-back titles of this size on the same day, what would you say?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: You're joking with me. (laughter.) That's what I would say, probably.
Well, this is something I think that we absolutely deserve, you know. We've been working very hard to throw out all of our lives, and this is just a crown for our work, and it's paying off.

Q. What does all this success do for your country?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: It does a lot. You know, I think professional athletes all over the world represent their country, are one of the biggest ambassadors of their country, and, of course, considering the fact that our country is in very difficult position, they're struggling economically, in economics and in politics, as well, but this is something that I don't want to get involved in, and I just, from my side, try to help my country as much as I can.

Q. Apparently you won first two major tournaments of the year, and we've got players like Mardy Fish and Tsonga beating Federer and Nadal. Do you think there's more equality in the top 10 now or even in the top 20 as far as players go?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I think so. There is more variety of players at the top, which is encouraging thing for this sport. Obviously a lot of people, if I can say like that, got a little bit bored, Federer and Nadal winning and being so dominant throughout couple of years already.
It's always good to see some new faces winning major events, and I think the people like it. And, yeah, the best thing is that all these new faces are young, young players, so hopefully you can see a lot of them in the future.

Q. You don't think people are tired of you winning everything early?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I'll try to be interesting for people (laughter.)

Q. Going into Australia, Roger was still the favorite to win the tournament. You win it. So you come into Indian Wells this time and it could have been argued at the start of the tournament that maybe you're the favorite, so was it a different type of pressure for you to come through here and actually win it?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yes, this is something which comes with success. You make -- obviously pressure is a part of the sport, but I think it's challenge and a privilege for all the professional athletes to have this pressure.
And now, the difference between the top players obviously in there, everybody else has the mental ability to cope with the pressure under certain moments and certain tournaments, especially tournaments with a value like this.
You know, with only 20 years of age I've achieved a lot in my life, but as I said, tennis -- tennis season is long, and tennis career is long, so hopefully I can have this kind of life in the next 10, 15 years. I'll try to do that and just be focused on that.

Q. There are some players who play the sport who I think would probably die rather than give a point away. I mean, you gave him a second -- you gave him a first serve somewhere during the match today. That's fairness, as well. It was appreciated by the crowd, as well. Did you sense that as you were...
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yeah, I sensed that. I'm happy that the crowd and the player -- of course, my opponent recognized the gesture I made and they appreciate that. I felt in that moment I should do that, so I just did it without any concerns.

Q. Would you be kind to tell us little bit more about the tennis center that your family is building in the heart of your country and the city of Kragujevac, please?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yes. We have finally, after many years of trying, we have good news now. We have license to build up two tennis complex, two tennis centers, one in Belgrade and one in Kragujevac, as you mentioned.
We're trying to create a family business in the firsthand, and the other hand try to help all the kids that really wanted to improve and to develop into the professional tennis players.
As I was saying before, Serbia doesn't have still a tennis center, national tennis center, and it's very much needed, considering the results that we are making. So I think we deserve it and we're going to try to help those kids.

Q. As has been mentioned, you've had this great start. In your own mind, do you think you're the best player in the world now?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I'm still not thinking that direction. I'm aware of the fact that people started talking about that, and looking at me as best player in the world this moment, which of course looking at the results I think I deserve to be, but again, I don't want to think in that direction, because it creates an extra pressure, and I have enough of the pressure and expectations behind my back.
I just want to think towards the continuation of the season, and I know that there's still a long way to the end of the year, and I'm coming closer, though, to the second place of the world, and people started talking about it three players instead of two now, which is encouraging thing and great thing for me. But I'm still not thinking of myself as the best player in the world.

Q. You've struggled through some hard times growing up, things like that. Have you allowed yourself any luxuries since you've become a big player and obviously making a lot of money and having a lot of success?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, this is something private, you know, which I think everybody enjoys. Money is important, but it's not most important thing, and I was never trying to be materialistic.
I always appreciate -- now, because of coming through such difficult times and coming from the country which never had big tennis tradition, you know, I turn around and look at my past and I think it helped me to be grownup person now and to think in some other way and to appreciate the value of life in some other thinking.

Q. At 4-2 in the second set you had control. Can you tell us kind of what happened to maybe lose that set and how you regained control in the third?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: As I said, I was nervous in that moment, and it resulted with some unforced errors, and I gave him opportunity to come back into the match, which he used, and I think that was -- that was crucial.

Q. Although it's a late hour, do you think there's some celebrating going on back home in Serbia?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Whew, might be, yeah. But they've had enough of our success last year, so...
I'm not sure. I haven't talked to anybody except you guys after the match, so hopefully -- but they always appreciate what we do and they respect our achievements, so it's nice to see that.

Q. You said that you don't want to get, I guess, pulled into the political situation at home, but you gave that video speech last month and also, I guess, what happened the last couple of days ago with Milorad Cavic and getting banned from the swimming championship.
Were there any repercussions from the speech that you gave that maybe made you hesitant, and is there any sort of attention that athletes have to go through?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: No, I still haven't got any negative comments on that. Of course, my life is tennis, my life is sport. This is my job.
This is what I do, and this is what I try to keep focused on. I know that the people obviously look at me as a very successful athlete and the man who can bring up a lot of positive energy to their country.
This is what I do, but as I said before, I'm not trying to get involved in politics, and this is -- period. This is the final sentence from me. And even though I'm young, I gave that speech, because I felt in that moment very bad and very disappointed in what's going on in our country, and the people who know my past and they understand what I'm saying, my father and my aunt, my uncle, they all grew up there, they were born in Kosovo, and my family used to live there for 30 years. I was there many times. So it kind of touched me in that moment that this was my quest to give support to my country.

Q. There were some fans up in the upper deck today with flags and everything, and one had a Serbia -- Kosovo with Serbia banner, and they were asked to take it down. How do you feel about that?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: This is a decision of the organizers. Obviously it's a very touchy task to talk about it now, so I don't have any comment for that.

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