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March 18, 2011

Novak Djokovic


N. DJOKOVIC/R. Gasquet
6-2, 6-4

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. It just doesn't seem like in any match these days that you really get yourself into big trouble.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, you know, I try to get out of trouble, that's for sure. But, yeah, he started off really well both sets. I was behind, break down, but I managed to make the crucial break and come back to the match.
So I felt the ball well, especially on the return games. First serve percentage was quite a little bit low, you know, and then towards the end of the match was better.

Q. Is there any shot now that you don't feel comfortable with? It seems like you can go to, you know, forehand spin, flat, backhand drive, dropshot, lob, whatever you want now.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Uh-huh. Well, look, you know, confidence plays a very important role, in the life of a tennis player. So if you can roll on that run and try to use that confidence that you have, you know, you can have a lot of success and you can really play well.
So that's what it's all about, my game these days. I do feel really comfortable on the court and trying to use that confidence, because I know that it can easily change. You know, it's a very mental game.

Q. When he jumps out to a 2-Love lead to start the match, is there any sense that you're just not feeling it today, you're a little bit off, or do you have enough confidence you can just shake it off?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: No, I mean, okay it was just opening two games of the match, so I was aware of the quality of my opponent today. I mean, he had the better start.
Okay, you know, I just forget about what happened and then moved on and made that break. It was very long game, and from that moment on, I was feeling the ball much better.

Q. A lot has been made about the improvement or consistency of your serve the last year, but maybe over the last couple years, and especially against better players like Roger, your forehand seems to be a lot more powerful. Am I wrong about that, or do you feel like now you can hit the forehand much bigger for winners?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yeah, it can be the case. Maybe you're right. I can flatten it out and a little bit and take the charge of the short balls that I have, which maybe wasn't the case in last maybe year or two.
Forehand was kind of always my weapon that, you know, I could hit it inside out quite well and use that, especially on clay. But, you know, on the slower hard courts, it's a very important shot. It puts your opponent off balance, and, you know, I'm feeling it really well in last three months.

Q. You obviously are focused on a run here for hopefully another title. Could you take a minute and talk about incredible moment after a huge win, say, the Davis Cup championship? What goes through your mind, your body, just at that moment when you know that you have it.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I know the shaver went through my head. It was probably the best feeling that I've experienced on a tennis court ever, even though winning two Grand Slams were probably my biggest achievements individually.
Sharing the best moments of your tennis career with somebodies makes it special. I had my teammates all the way, every point supporting me, and I was supporting my teammates. It's a team spirit that you don't get to feel when you're playing on individual events.
That's why that competition awakens something different in ourselves, new emotions, and the crowd cheers much differently than any other event, you know, between the points. We have supporters. We have national colors, flags, all over the stadium. It makes you feel very proud, you know, because you represent your country.
And then when you win a world championship, because it is, you know, for your country and you become a world champion, it's no other feeling that can be better than that.
Even though I had a very short off-season after that, I really was eager to come back to the court, because I felt that I just grabbed the momentum, and I want to keep on going and keep playing some good tennis and making more success.

Q. In those moments, do you kind of go numb? Do you do any kind of flashback to when you're a kid and just in the moments after that?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I mean, so many things go through your mind. You're right. You've got your childhood going through your mind, what you have been through to be able to be in this position and win a Davis Cup title, one of the most prestigious titles in our sport.
But as I said, when you win a Grand Slam, it is incredible achievement, but you're by yourself, you know. When you win Davis Cup, you are with your teammates, and it's much different celebration than the one that you do with yourself.

Q. You have been through a stretch like this at the beginning of a season before, 2008. You were the marked guy, the guy to beat. So this time around, are you able to enjoy it a lot more than you did last time? Maybe can we talk about the quality, the feeling of this run you had beginning of the year versus 2008?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I enjoyed tennis even back in 2008, 2009, all these years, but I wasn't maybe managing to find the right balance between, you know, things I prioritize and things I don't prioritize.
Right now I'm very clear in my mind what I need to do on the court, off the court, to prepare well, and to give my maximum on the court. And as well have time to enjoy with my friends, with my team, and just enjoy the off-court life.
That's probably the difference, that experience that I have over the years.

Q. Were you scared a little bit when you won in 2008, or did it feel like when was...
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Just inexperience, just, you know, a young tennis player who has made an incredible achievement winning Grand Slam and then a couple of other major events, and, you know, it maybe happened too fast for me and I was confused and didn't know what to do.
But now it's much different.

Q. What's going on with your knee? You have an ice pack on it.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: No, just preventional. That's what we do, put the ice on the knee and shoulder.

Q. In 2008 you were a younger player. You're now not necessarily a veteran, but mid-career. For the last few years, Federer and Nadal have sort of set the scene and been sort of the role models for young up-and-coming players. Do you see yourself now potentially as one of, not just one of the successful players, but potentially being a role model for players coming onto the tour?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, if that's the case, then I'm very proud of my achievements and very happy to be able to be a role model for somebody that is coming up. Yeah, definitely I have been many years on the tour, and I have been fortunate enough to have lots of success in last four years as No. 3 of the world.
Of course, Nadal and Federer have been the best two players of the world, the most dominant. I mean, all the credit to them. I have been in this small group of players who is following up and trying to compete with them, to challenge them.
You know, the times are changing. You can see that there is some young players, young stars coming up, as Harrison, Raonic, you know, these guys, Dimitrov. They are playing some great tennis.
It's good for the sport and it's good to see, because we didn't see in that last three years. My generation is kind of the last generation of the players that made an impact on the tennis world.
After that, we didn't have that many young players. Right now it's more variety, it's somebody new to look up for, and it's good.

Q. What's your mindset when you go from one tournament to the next? When you are about to start an event, do you feel that this could be a good week or this might not be a good week? As a follow-on to that, how did you feel just before things started before coming in here?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, every event I have very high ambitions and goals. So I, you know, set a very high goal, and sometimes it's good; sometimes it's not good. Maybe puts extra pressure on you.
But I'm confident and I'm aware of my qualities, and I know that I can beat anyone on the tour if I'm playing -- if I'm on top of my game.
But, you know, there are days and there are weeks where you don't feel well, and you cannot always feel good on the court. You cannot always give 100%. It's normal. We're all humans.
But you take the best out of it and try to perform your best and move on. You know, the tennis is a sport where you have to get used to losing on a week to week basis, you know. That's what is making your mental strength, you know, stronger, and, you know, giving you a lot of, I guess, experience to move on.

Q. Are junior development programs increasing and improving due to your success in your country?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yes, and I'm happy too see that. We are a country of team sports, and you could see kids all over the country playing basketball and football -- or soccer; sorry, you call it that -- or handball and water polo.
But nowadays you can see kids on the streets with the tennis racquet and tennis balls, and there are more tennis clubs. There is a system that is developing now. There was no system, but now it's coming up because we have lot of talents, a lot of tennis players to offer. We need to help them out, give them a best possible condition to practice and to develop into professional players in our country, not to have the, you know, kind of similar fate that we had, that we had to go out of the country and kind of become pros.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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