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April 22, 2008

Novak Djokovic


N. DJOKOVIC/I. Ljubicic
6-3, 6-3

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. That looked like on paper a potentially difficult first match. You must be pleased to have got through it so comfortably?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: True, I am. Especially with the fact that he's a very good friend of mine. Personally we have great relations off the court, as well on the court. We practiced a lot. That's one of the reasons I had a bit nervous start.
But in the end I came up with a straight-set win, which is very important for me on the start of the clay court season. Even though I faced a lot of breakpoints, I think I played the best tennis in the most important moments, and that's what matters actually most.

Q. What are the things at this point in the clay court season in your game you're particularly focused on?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, one of the things that I really try to have this year is patience. But then in the other hand I'll try to be myself and be aggressive: the kind of style of the game that I always have. So it's gonna be a real test for me.
I haven't won a major event on clay, so I always have highest possible intentions and goals any tournament I play. I think I have enough quality to beat the best players in the world - even on this surface. I had more time than last year to prepare, to rest and to work on some things, particular things for clay, and hopefully it's going to pay off in the tournaments.

Q. Some time ago you announced that you wanted to be No. 1. In Australia you beat Federer. Do you still have the same goal for the end of the year?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, you know, I always try to be as realistic as is possible. But in the other hand, I always try to aim for the highest goals, as I said just before.
So, okay, I don't want to push myself too much and keep my focus on the points and rankings too much because I know that if I do so I'm not gonna be able to play well on the court. So I'll try to go step by step, just go easy.
I know that I have enough quality, that I have enough potential, to be at the top of the world. But I'm only 20 years old and there is still a lot of time and a lot of tournaments, a lot of seasons to come.
You know, Roger and Rafa were very dominant the last three, four years. But this year the situation is quite different. You know, the people are talking now about more players, including myself, and tennis is seeing some new faces. This is good for the sport.
And, you know, my goal for this year was to win a Grand Slam, and I did it. So now I'll try to be as much consistent as is possible on the major events, and hopefully I can get further - at least a step further - on the rankings till the end of the season.

Q. What is the best thing that's happened to you since you won the Australian Open?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, there is a lot of great things. I can't say that I can just think of one thing. But people appreciate you more and I think look at you with more respect when you're a Grand Slam winner.
Of course, there were a lot of talks in the last year and a half or so about me being, you know, a big talent, big potential, you know, good player, but I still haven't won any Grand Slams. So now I confirmed that I really deserve to be where I am.

Q. You mentioned Roger. What did you make of his start to the season? Is there an apparent weakness there or is it a case of a blip or do you sense his level may be dropping slightly?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, you know, he's a human in the end. I think it's normal after such a long period of the time being No. 1 and being so dominant on every surface that he plays a little bit worse than he usually does on the start of the season.
But still it's just the start of the season. It's still a lot of tournaments to come. He won his first tournament now in Estoril, so he's obviously gaining a lot of confidence. And we're gonna see a lot of him.
Of course, for him, this is a challenge, to stay on the top of the world. Rafa is just right behind him for many years. Of course, he's gonna try to get him as fast as possible. But Roger is not intending of getting off that first place in the world.
But the things are a little bit shaked up, that's for sure. I won the Grand Slam. You know, you see Tsonga in the final. So, as I said, there are new faces, and it's good for tennis.

Q. The crowd likes you very much because not only do you play great tennis, but also you have the quality of being able to have fun and joke on the court. But now you seem more calm. Is it because you really want to focus and be the best in tennis? Do you think it's sort of a better discipline?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I think I always have fun and enjoyment and I will never stop doing that for any purpose. But in the other hand, I'm a professional tennis player and my lifetime goal is to be the No. 1 player of the world. Of course, I'm going to try to do that in my career. You know, it doesn't need to be this year, next year. It can be even in five to 10 years. Doesn't matter.
But I know that I dedicated my life to this sport. As soon as I'm on the court or I need to focus myself on tennis, that's what I do. But off the court is something else. It's my personal life. Let's not get to the details too much (smiling).

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