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June 21, 2008

Novak Djokovic


THE MODERATOR: Questions for Novak.

Q. You have said you were confident of winning this title, if not this year, possibly next year. What chances do you think there are of a repeat of the Australian Open semifinal this year, should you and Roger get that far?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, it's a long way still to semifinals. I have to go step by step. It's a two-weeks event, 128 players fighting for the title, so there's many good players which are very motivated to do well.
Of course, this is one of the most prestigious tournaments in the sports. Yes, I was mentioning that one of my dreams is to win Wimbledon. That's what I had when I was younger. Of course, I wouldn't complain even if I win it in 10 years. I will try to work hard and results will come. I'm sure about that.

Q. Do you see Roger as more vulnerable here than he has been in the past because of the way he's played the first half of this year?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, what you can say? You know, quite some things have changed this year. It's becoming more interesting to see some new names, new faces winning the major titles, and believing more that they can win against the top players, which makes the game more interesting, of course.
Roger is still the No. 1 player of the world. He made a good results this year. Not as good as in past four or five years when he was really dominant in the sport. And, obviously, you know, mentally he was filled up, you know, from such a dominance. It's normal to have ups and downs, and he's feeling, you know, the pressure a little bit.
But I think for him it's a big challenge to defend the first place in the world.

Q. How would you describe Nadal as a grass court player right now?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, he's one of the best in the world, that's for sure. You know, he's playing better and better year after year. He's shown that in Queen's. It was really impressive the way he played on grass. I consider him as one of the favorites to win Wimbledon.

Q. Do you remember anything from Nadal/Federer in the final last year here?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: No, I haven't seen any of the final.

Q. How would you describe yourself as a grass court player at this point?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Improved since couple of years. I'm just playing, you know, tennis on this surface for three or four years back, so you don't get many chances to play on this surface. It's only one month a year, and this is the surface which has the biggest history in the sport.
For me, I always look forward to play on it. It's pretty interesting. It's suitable to my game because it's slower than it used to be. Baseline players have much more success than in the past.
But I'm still working on some varieties in my game, some segments that I want to improve on: serve and volley, which are really important for this surface.
I'm really happy with the way I played in Queen's. Reached the final, so I'm feeling pretty confident.

Q. You said that Roger is feeling the pressure at the moment. Do you think then this is your best chance to capitalize on that this year?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I mean, I don't want to rush into it. I know that people are looking at me and Rafa as a possible threat to him for the first place in the world till the end of this year.
But it's still a long way, you know. It's only half of the season. I just want to go slowly and just aim some smaller goals for now, you know. I want to be consistent with the results in the major events, try to reach a possible second Grand Slam title.
I know that I have enough quality to do so. You know, Wimbledon is coming up. After that, US Open, which is one of my favorite surfaces and favorite events.
You know, I just -- hopefully in the end of the year can get a place further on the ATP rankings.

Q. Does it make you more equipped, having won a Grand Slam?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yeah, of course. It gives you much more confidence. Of course, people look at you in the different way: much more respect and appreciation for what you have done. Before this year's Australian Open, I was one of the potential players to win the Grand Slam. Had a really good run in 2007, but I still wasn't able to make it.
But then, you know, I've done it. As a Grand Slam winner, you know, you get in the history books. Not many players manage to achieve that.

Q. You say that Roger is feeling the pressure. How do you think that can affect him?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, it all depends. Of course, he won the first tournament on grass in Halle pretty comfortably. He feels this is his favorite surface. He's the five-time defending champion in Wimbledon. He feels great on the Centre Court. Again, he's No. 1 favorite to win it this year.
Of course, I mean, pressure is a part of the sport. He's feeling maybe more now than he used to do in the past years. But we're still gonna see a lot of him in the future.

Q. Do you change your play when you play grass?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: As I said, the grass is much slower, which is more suitable to my game. My game is based on the baseline, but I'm trying to mix it up, you know, to change the pace, to use more slice, and go more to the net.
You know, there is still a lot of room for improvement, and I'm aware of that. So I've been working hard the last couple months on these things, and we'll see how it goes.

Q. With Tim Henman not here, the British public are resting their hopes on Andy Murray. How big a threat to the other players see him this year?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, obviously he's a very big talent, big potential to be one of the top five players in the world. Obviously everybody expected him to do that, you know, earlier this year, but he was struggling a lot with injuries. You know, we have to consider that. He had his ups and downs. It's not easy to come back mentally especially.
But now he doesn't have many points to defend and he's very motivated to do well in Wimbledon, the tournament he hasn't played last year. So he's going to have the big support of the crowd, which is always welcome.

Q. If I could ask you to look ahead for a second, how important is the Olympics to you this year relative to a Grand Slam? Will you be treating it the same?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I will. I treat every tournament basically the same. Of course, a Grand Slam has a different -- much higher value. But I try, whenever I get to the court, to give my hundred percent.
As a professional athlete, I'm aware that tennis is very unpredictable. It can turn around in a second, you know. Mentally you have to be strong, and physically, of course, to hold on for 10 out of 12 months, traveling and playing a lot of events.
Olympics, Olympic Games, are games which have the biggest history in the sport. I think for every player, every athlete, it is a privilege and an honor to participate in such an event. It comes every four years, so who knows what is going to happen in four years.
I'll be very privileged to be there, and just looking forward to it. Hopefully I can be healthy to just participate in the Games.

Q. In the past, the men's results in the Olympics have been very unpredictable, a lot of upsets. Roger has made it clear it's very important to him in Beijing, Nadal. You, of course, in Serbia. Do you think this might be a year where the top players do really well in the men's tournament there?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I think so. Everybody is motivated to do so. Federer hasn't won a medal in the Olympics, Nadal as well, myself. Everybody is eager to do that, so I think everybody's really, really motivated.
I mean, Olympics is a very special place in sports for everybody, you know. So just to be there and feel the atmosphere and meet professional athletes from different sports from every part of the world is just great. And plus winning the medal, it makes you very happy.

Q. You talk about the unpredictability. It's something that Wimbledon is often associated with, the unpredictability of the weather. We've already seen it today affecting the practice rounds. Bad weather forecast throughout the tournament. Is that like a running joke with the tennis players, that when they come over here, they have to get used to it?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: It was a joke, but it's not a joke any more. Now you just want to avoid the bad weather, of course.
I mean, I've been staying in a hotel last two, three years, so I had a really difficult time, especially last year. I was one of the few players which was really hurt by that bad weather. For five days I was playing one match, which was basically impossible.
Afterwards I had to finish the tournament the way I finished it, you know. I had to retire from semifinals, which was very frustrating for me.
This year I have a house, like most of the guys. And just in case that it's raining or bad weather you can have a rest.
But this is a part of the sport. It's part of Wimbledon. Traditionally you have very bad weather. You have to accept it.

Q. How hard is it killing time in the hotel room?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Unfortunately, I don't have time to get to the hotel room. Again, traffic in London is terrible during the day, so you have to stay here and wait.

Q. You mentioned two bad things about the tournament, or about London or the weather.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, now everybody thinks I have only the negative thoughts about London, right (smiling)?

Q. Can you tell us a couple of things that do stand out about visiting London, England, Wimbledon.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: No, it's very nice. London has a special soul. It's a beautiful city, very big city. There's a lot of things to do, you know. A lot of historical objects to visit, sight-seeing. But we don't have so much time, of course.
I just like the quietness of this area here in Wimbledon. You know, just having the house, it's so much relaxing. You can go by walk to the site and back and just have a garden, being with the family and just keeping your mind a little bit off tennis, saving the energy. I think this is what not many tournaments have.

Q. What has it meant to Serbia to have slams champions this year? What has been the reception? What are your observations on the following as a result?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, the general opinion is that the country is very proud of our achievements. Of course, for such a small country, having two Grand Slam champions in half a year is an incredible achievement. Of course, as individuals we represent ourselves in the first place, but then country as well.
Every time country name is written on a scoreboard wherever we show up, this is a big positive commercial for Serbia. So they really respect it and they appreciate it. Receptions were just amazing. Tennis is No. 1 sport in our country in the moment.

Q. What are your observations on Ana's game? What went through your mind when she won in France?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: No, I was very happy for her. I mean, of course, we grown up together. I know her for long time. She's a great girl. Fantastic tennis player. She's improved so much.
Watching her matches, the last three matches, she was very brave. Whenever she needed, she was going for the shots. This is the attitude of the champion, so she absolutely deserves the Grand Slam.

Q. As the third-ranked player, you're destined to play either Roger or Rafa one way or the other. I don't think you've played Roger on grass. Considering what you were just saying about him feeling more pressure, is that something you look forward to more as a challenge, maybe more than playing Rafa?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: You know, whoever I play, for me it's a challenge. To have a role of the favorite or to try to win against the better-ranked player, I mean, everything is a challenge in the sport.
Yes, I do look forward to play against Roger on this surface. We have played on hard courts and clay, as well. You know, it would be great to have a match against him on his favorite surface just to see where the things stand, you know, where is my game compared to his. But it's still a long way.

Q. The Player Council vote is today. Possibility of the top three players joining the council. To have top players representing, what do you think that would mean for the sport as far as changing the direction of things?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I think it's fantastic for the sport. We're changing the face, changing the picture of everything in general. We were wondering if it's gonna take a lot of time, because even like this we don't have such a big amount of the free time. We have to spend it wisely.
But, you know, we decided together that this is the best thing for sport, to join the players council and to try to be united in the future to make decisions, the good decisions for us, for everybody.
To be involved in all these major decisions and all the specifics, the details, is very important for us, because in the end we are the most important part of the sport. People are coming because of us. We have to defend our interests.

End of FastScripts

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