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November 26, 2010

Nenad Zimonjic


6-0, 2-6, 10-6

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Obviously, next week you have the Davis Cup final. How difficult has it been this week to concentrate on this, knowing you have this huge match coming up next week?
NENAD ZIMONJIC: I mean, there are couple of things definitely that are going through my mind. One is that we are stopping after this week. Then second is the Davis Cup.
But I don't think it has any effect on how I'm playing. I think this is really good preparation. It's difficult competition. You play against the best teams in the world.
Like you could see today, if you're a little bit off, you know, you can lose every match. And so I'm really looking forward to go back home and to play the biggest final that we played or that we have in our tennis history.

Q. Next week's final, how would that compare to your personal achievements in Grand Slams, say Wimbledon, for example? If you won the Davis Cup, would that be the pinnacle for you?
NENAD ZIMONJIC: It's a different competition, definitely. It's not only up to you. You could be unbelievable player and never get the chance to play Davis Cup finals. It's about the team. We have a great team. Thanks to every single one of us, you know, we are there in the finals.
Obviously Novak brings a lot, you know, to the team. I bring a lot with the doubles. But then the second player, which is either Viktor or Janko, they're also doing their part, you know.
It's difficult to compare. It's completely different achievement. But it's the biggest achievement that we have as a country, I would say, in the tennis, which is an individual sport.
We won last year Dusseldorf, which is the best result for our country. We won that without Novak being in the team. So that shows that we have a pretty good team without him. But obviously with him it's much, much strong.

Q. Can you explain the depth of tennis in Serbia? You tend to have a huge amount of players to choose from.
NENAD ZIMONJIC: It's not huge amount. I would say that the countries, they've been really good with the depth of the players, by far Spain and France, and after that U.S. They have really good system. They have Federation that helps them a lot, organizing the programs, coaches. We don't have that. It's all individual kind of story. Everybody practice somewhere else.
I was also practicing outside of Serbia in many different places, among them in Inset (phonetic), and Julian was there.
I say, it's all individual. We are very talented country, I would say, for sports. Hasn't been in the past that we were really good in individual sports, but this changed with the tennis couple of years ago.

Q. I know Novak left the country when he was a teenager.
NENAD ZIMONJIC: Yeah, 13, 14.

Q. And Ana, too.
NENAD ZIMONJIC: Everybody really.

Q. She practiced in a swimming pool.
NENAD ZIMONJIC: That was actually a good place to practice. When I was there, there was no place to practice. You had those balloon, how you call it, halls. But we have I believe two courts in the city, which is two million people. So you didn't get much chance to really practice. There was no hard courts or any fast surfaces when I was growing up.
For them, it was I would say a little bit easier. It was like practicing on surfaces like that. They used the swimming pool as kind of, you know, surrounding. It was actually good conditions to practice there compared to what I've been through.

Q. Did you have to travel out of the country to practice, as well?
NENAD ZIMONJIC: I told you, probably I was playing tennis in the worst time. It was the worst time for the country, worst time for athletes. We had embargo sanctions. We could not compete as juniors. I had to fly out of Budapest, which is six hours by minivan. Every time when I had to leave the country, six hours to Budapest, then fly somewhere else. It was really rough times. It was difficult to get Visas to travel.
Also with the army, it was connected with the passport, so you could not extend your passport how long you wanted.
It wasn't easy, that's for sure. It was a little bit better for them. But still I say there is no system. Still there is no system. Even the Tennis Federation doesn't have their own facilities. Hopefully it's going to change soon. That's something that I would like to do maybe after I finish my career, to help make it like a tennis school or academy where young kids could practice and learn something that I learned all over the world.

Q. Quite a contrast to the French system. So established, so much money going into the system.
NENAD ZIMONJIC: There is no comparison. We have four players that played all the time, like last few years. They have depth of, I would say, eight, nine players that can play any day in the Davis Cup.
The good thing about French players is they're good on any surface. They play club matches. They practice in different conditions, different surfaces. That makes them better players.
We are lucky that we have a team, as well, that can play on any surface. That's why we are strong. We are good friends, all four of us, off the court, which helps a lot in situations like this coming up. So hopefully we can get another win and get the biggest title for everybody at home.

Q. This is obviously a very big arena here, 17,000 capacity. What is it going to be like in Belgrade next week?
NENAD ZIMONJIC: There it's a little bit bigger.

Q. In terms of atmosphere?
NENAD ZIMONJIC: It's going to be very different. Here obviously they are not really favorites. Even if Andy Murray is playing somebody, they are very respectful to the other players. They cheer them on.
In the Davis Cup competition, it's not like that usually, you know. It's a lot more support for the local team, whenever you play. You have to face that. For sure, it's going to be a huge advantage for our team.

Q. When did you decide to concentrate solely on doubles as a tennis player?
NENAD ZIMONJIC: A couple of years. I would say 2003, '4. I didn't really chose. I didn't have sponsors. I didn't have chances to hire a coach that could travel with me, just concentrate on singles for six, seven months, give myself a chance. The money that I was making through doubles, I was investing myself so I could keep on playing. That's why.

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