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August 23, 2008

Novak Djokovic


THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. You had such a great run here last year. I imagine you had some pretty great memories. How does it feel to be back?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: It feels great, you know, to be back in the tournament where I did really well last year. I was really close to the title and I had some exhausting matches, but this is where I think I felt really confident after that, you know. I started believing more than I can win a Grand Slam title, which I did this year.
Now things are quite different. As a Grand Slam winner, you know, you get some kind of relief, you know, and you get motivation to have -- to claim even more titles. I think this surface and the balls and all the conditions here in New York are suitable to my style of the game and to my personality and everything.
So if I feel well physically, I think - I hope - I can get far.

Q. You said you have great memories here, but each Grand Slam is different. What's unique about this one?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I think it's entertainment, the show. I think Americans really know how to do it, and everybody who gets here has a lot of things to do. It's really interesting so for the fans.
And even for the players, you know, to be in the biggest stadium in sports, and to play, you know, primetime, you know, last year I played a couple of matches.
So it was one of the best feelings I had, you know, stepping in the court in the finals match when, you know, 23,000 people stood up and, then, you know, applause.
It's really nice. They appreciate what you're doing, and they really enjoy. So it's a pleasure, and big entertainment.

Q. Now that you've been able to win a Grand Slam, how important is that experience to succeed in the final of a Grand Slam tournament, going into another Grand Slam knowing you've been able to do it before?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: It gives you, as I said, relief and confidence. It gives you a belief that when you find yourself in that certain important moments when you just need to come up with something good and something special and just try to be calm and hold your nerves.
That's what happens when you have experience with winning Grand Slams, you know. That's why Roger and Rafa are so dominant and they look so good on the court when they have these important matches, important moments. They're really calm and they know what to do.
This is what I'm still trying to do, and I think it's getting -- it's getting in a good way.

Q. What does it feel like to look at the draw and see Roger not at the top of it anymore, whereas he has been for the last few years?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I haven't really looked at the draw. But, yeah, it's strange. He's been very dominant, of course, for the last four years. He was always in that first place.
But, you know, you've got to give a lot of credit to Rafa. He's been playing best tennis of his career this year, and he deserves to be No. 1.

Q. Aside from yourself, who is the favorite for this tournament?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Them two, you know, first two favorites to win this title.

Q. Would you pick one over the other?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: No. I would -- Roger of course is defending champ and he feels great here. But it's going to be interesting to see, because Rafa is playing the best tennis this year.

Q. James Blake, we were talking obviously about his victory over Roger in the Olympics, and the fact that Roger has not had success this year that he's had in the past and has not been quite as dominant. He was saying that as far as he was concerned, Roger hasn't lost anything. It's just that there are other players that are coming up and playing better than they played in the past. Could you reflect on that? Do you share that thought?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I would agree with that, yeah.

Q. Do you think that's an advantage to you that you're not the clear favorite?

Q. Is it an advantage to you that you're not the clear favorite for the title?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I don't think I'm a clear favorite when I'm playing next to these two guys, you know. I've never been, because they're of course first two players of the world. But still next to me there are a lot of players, like Andy Murray who is doing really well last couple of months. We can expect him to play well in this tournament.
Davydenko, of course. Roddick. Ferrer. There are players who are really motivated, and they're waiting for their moment. So anything can happen. I do have a lot of expectations, of course, always to go far in the event, towards semifinals at least. But I'm not trying to pay attention to that, even though most of the matches I get in I'm a favorite as a third player of the world.
But I just want to play the best tennis I can and results will show up.

Q. Are you somebody who suffers in any way from jet lag? I'm just wondering this trip that you did to Beijing and back...
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Oh, yes. I had my consequences, as well. But it's -- this year was special because of the Olympics, so the schedule was really, really tight. Last couple of weeks for me were really exhausting, so I had to travel all over the world and made a -- wound around the globe, because I went from Cincinnati, I went back home and then went to Beijing and then came here. Everything in 10 days. You can imagine how I feel.

Q. How do you feel right now?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I feel -- I feel excited, you know. I look forward to the tournament. But physically I still need to work on some things hopefully till, you know, Tuesday, Wednesday, I can be fit.

Q. Did you do anything different in the last week or so that you wouldn't have done just because of an increase in the sort of the jet lag factor?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yeah, I tried to decrease the intensity of the practice a little bit in first couple of days, you know. Not to exaggerate, not to go really full, because as I said, I traveled a lot and the body reacted.
So I felt a little dizzy. But, you know, after a while, now, you know, I'm trying to increase the intensity and get ready for the matches.

Q. Jelena was talking earlier about how wonderful a time it is for Serbian tennis. Obviously a good summer for Serbian tennis. Top three players from Serbia. Just reflect on how this plays at home when you go home, the importance of the fact that Serbia has three great tennis players on tour now.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, yes, I mean, they appreciate really what we are doing, so we get a lot of feedback, and positive feedback and a lot of support from them, from the people.
It's just great when you come back home. The people, you know, recognize you and give you a lot of compliments, of course, and just tell you some nice things. This feels right, and this feels -- you feel proud of yourself because of that. That means that you've succeeded in your life, and it's great to share these moments with your people, so...
But, you know, as you all know probably, we travel a lot, so we don't get to spend as much time home. So we really don't have a clear picture of how big is tennis in our country, but I think it's the biggest sport in the moment, the most popular, and soon we're going to have a tournament there.

Q. How does that make your experience in Beijing different than your success on the tour at the Grand Slams?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Oh, yeah. It's quite different, you know. I was playing with a lot of emotions in the Olympics, because it's something different, you know, top athletes all around the world in different sports participating in that event. Everybody starts from zero. There is no favorites whatsoever.
Anything can happen. Olympics, just to be there is a huge success and achievement for you as an athlete, and to win a medal is really something you remember for a lifetime. I got a lot of positive comments on that from my country. Of course, they're really proud.
So you represent your country in first place, you know. You bring your medal, you bring a medal for your country. That's what makes it so unique.

Q. Rafa was asked a similar question, and he says that he feels every time he steps on the tennis court he's representing Spain. It isn't just Davis Cup or the chance to play in the Olympics.

Q. Do you feel that way, playing for Serbians in the private homes?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Absolutely. Absolutely. As an individual, in an individual sport, of course you first of all represent yourself and your name, your family, and then of course your country every time.
Because every time you show up in any tournament, you play on the big screen and it shows up next to your name and it shows the name of your country.
So I think, you know, the sportists and the athletes, not just tennis athletes, any athletes in the world, who represent -- who are participating in the great event are one of the biggest and ambassadors of their country.
Because, you know, you show up and in a big country like this, United States, and then the people see where you're coming from so they get interested for the country. This is, I think, a great thing for us. Serbia is a small country, 9, 10 million people. Nothing comparing to States.

Q. You've been quite entertaining the last two years. Any plans for this year?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: No, no plans. If it comes, it comes spontaneous. We'll see.

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