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August 29, 2011

Novak Djokovic


THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Did there come a time this season, maybe the Australian or afterward, where you knew your game was on a different level than it was last year and previous years?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: It's obviously a different level that I have of the game this present moment last nine months. It's been the best nine months of my career, and I just feel that I got better on the court. I just know what to do, and I have matured, as well.
You know, there has been some improvement definitely in my game, and it's all coming together.

Q. Have you been able to hit much in the last few days? We had some kind of colorful weather.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yeah, I have been able to hit, and actually even yesterday I hit for an hour, hour and a half outdoors, so it's good.

Q. How is your shoulder feeling? Any remnants from the week before?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yes, my shoulder is feeling fine. I had a little trouble in Cincinnati throughout the whole week, and I carried that up to the finals. You know, it was unfortunate to finish this way the match against Murray.
But I think it was right decision, because I needed not to risk anymore, any further, you know, further major injuries. So I decided to take some time off and went to MRI and everything is fine.
I have been serving in last couple of days, playing 100%, so I'm ready for the tournament.

Q. Had you not had a Grand Slam tournament two weeks later than Cincinnati, would you have withdrawn? I mean, or would you have withdrawn under any circumstances with that?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I don't know, because the Grand Slam is one week after Cincinnati, so I cannot give you an answer on that.

Q. In what way was last year's Open a springboard for all that you've achieved since? What do you take from last year's experience here?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I had a great US Open 2010. As you said, it was one of the springboards for me for the season that I had so far, 2011. The match against Troicki first round actually last year when I was two sets to one down and a break down and I managed to come back, and then I went to the finals and played an exciting match against Federer in the semis.
So, you know, after that tournament, US Open I started to believe more that I can win big matches against top guys. You know, I got the necessary confidence, you know, in order to approach the next season.
The Davis Cup win was probably the other tremendous experience that I had that gave me a lot of positive energy. I was very eager to come back to the court after that, even though the offseason was very short. But I still wanted to play tournaments.
You know, in the end this is a very mental sport, so I think, you know, playing on the top level for last couple of years I was aware of the importance of a mental approach to the game. Obviously you need to have a high level of confidence. You need to believe that you can win matches when you're playing against top guys and when you're playing on Grand Slams.
That's something that I think improved in my life and my game in my head in the last 12 months.

Q. So here specifically how did your belief level change?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, as I said, after the tournament I started to believe that I can win the matches, like against Federer for example, where I saved couple of match points, and, you know, I didn't give up. I had still a really good final against Rafa.
So after a while, you know, I won my first Grand Slam in 2008. I had great opening six months that of year, and then I had a lot of ups and downs. You know, I struggled especially mentally. I was always coming to the later stages of a Grand Slam, semifinals, but I wasn't managing to make that extra step, you know, because I didn't get that positive mindset on the court when I played the big guys.
Now I changed.

Q. You have been withstanding a lot of pressure for the last nine months, but nevertheless, it looks like you have been having a lot of fun. You did a recording with a fish saying, Don't worry be happy. That is like your secret, right?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Exactly. That's my best friend now.
Yeah, I think it's been a roller coaster ride for me last ten months in every sense of that word. On and off of the court I have experienced some things that I didn't experience before.
Obviously I had a fantastic ten months on the court and I had some incredible runs, but I did experience as well the, you know, expectations and the pressure of having that run.
But I managed to mentally hold on and really, after that loss in French Open, you know, to stand up and really recover well and perform my best tennis on Wimbledon in the moment when I needed it most.
I became No. 1 of the world, but I'm enjoying every single moment of it, to be honest. I don't really want to think of, you know, the time that I will spend on this place or when it will end, when I will, you know, lose the No. 1 spot.
I'm really trying to accept everything that I have in front of me as a big challenge.

Q. There was a story today about your use of hyperbaric chamber for healing.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yeah, I saw that.

Q. And physicality.

Q. What can you tell us about that?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, all I can say is that I have used it a couple of times last year, and I haven't used it since.
You know, it's very interesting technology, but I don't know the effect of it. It has nothing to do with my success that I had in last ten months.

Q. The story said you were using it last couple of days.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, it would be great if that machine had wings so it can fly wherever I am playing.

Q. Where is the machine?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: It's in New Jersey, one of the sports complexes there.

Q. When you happy when Tsonga beat Federer in quarterfinals in Wimbledon, or would you have preferred to play semifinals against Roger?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I'm happy the way it is right now (Smiling.)
Q. Once in a while in Monte-Carlo you take your bag, you go up in the mountains playing. Which kind of stuff you do outside of the court to have endurance without the racquet?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I have different kinds of practice routines that I, you know, do with my team. I cannot say everything that we do obviously, but we try to put something new in our practices, because tennis schedule is more or less the same each year.
We're traveling to the same places, going to the same tournaments, and most of the preparation for those tournaments are, you know, the same. So we always try to put some innovation in our practice to make it more interesting.
We like to do different kinds of sports, you know, as our physical preparation, as in biking, as you said, and kayak and different kinds of things for endurance for general strength.
You know, it just really depends for what we are preparing and which tournament.

Q. When we were talking to Federer, we were always asking him what was motivating him and what were still his dreams. Now that you are No. 1, you still have dreams? And what is the first dream of all?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, in my life I have a lot of dreams, but in my tennis career, as well. You know, look, I did achieve the dreams that I had throughout all my tennis career, but I still have lots to prove to myself, first of all.
I think I'm able, if I continue on playing this way, I'm able to win more majors. That's one of my goals, you know, in the next couple of years, to try to stay healthy and try to perform well and win as many majors as I can.
You know, Olympic medal and, you know, another Davis Cup would be great.

Q. One thing is a goal and one thing is a dream.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I kind of put them together. (Laughter.)

Q. When you played the match against Argentina in Davis Cup, it depends what happens here?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Will I play? The question is will I play Davis Cup?

Q. Yes.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: The way the things are standing now, yes, I will play.

Q. What do you think about this match in Argentina?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, we are playing at home, which is always, in my opinion, a little advantage, because Davis Cup is a very different competition. It's a team competition, and it's really important to have the home advantage and support of your people.
But Argentina is very successful team. They have great players: Del Potro, Monaco, Nalbandian. They have many options.
But, look, it's still US Open in front of us, so I will try to keep my focus on this tournament and then Davis Cup.

Q. How old were you when you started to slide on cement? Is it something that you learned or does it just come naturally?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I think it developed through the practices, you know, and through the matches. I don't know.
It's not something that I really was planning to learn how to do, you know. I don't think that there is any coach that is going to tell you logically that it's right to slide on cement, right? It's not just good for your body.
But I developed it, you know, through my game. I was always playing from the baseline and I always had -- you know, in the beginning of my career I had coaches who were telling me not to let any balls pass me. You know, even in practice, even if it's out, to try to get every ball, to try to fight for, you know, each point, each ball.
So I guess that's why, you know, I was always trying to get -- you see the ball and it's far away, and I slide.

Q. You are going to play after US Open with Sampras exhibition match somewhere in Europe?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yes, that's true, but it's still not confirmed. We were supposed to play in Slovenia exhibition, but the negotiations are not over yet. It's not confirmed.
Hopefully it's going to become true, because I would really love to play with my idol.

Q. The story about the pressure chamber, it said you stayed in New Jersey the last couple years.

Q. Is that not the case this year?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I'm staying at the New Jersey again with Gordon, because he's my friend for my years already. He's been in the tennis world for last 15, 20 years. He's been a player himself.
Yeah, we're staying in New Jersey because it's very calm, it's very private, and we get to relax after, you know, exhausting day here.

Q. Will you use that since you will be in New Jersey, that chamber?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: No, I haven't used it this year because I'm really not intending to change my own routines. I have my own therapist I have with my team and it's been working well, so I have no reason to really try other things.

Q. Is there just a little concern that with a two-week grind, that the inflammation could come back, you know, with long matches and stuff? Are you trying to get these matches maybe early on over maybe three sets instead of five-set matches?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I think every player tries to win in three sets in a Grand Slam. Try to spend as less time on the court as possible.
Look, I cannot predict anything. I cannot say, you know, this is what's gonna be, you know. You never know what's gonna happen.
But what I can say right now is that my shoulder is in a really good condition. I didn't feel any pain, I don't have any inflammation right now, and I hope it's gonna stay that way.

Q. You have the sensation that what happened this year, Roger and Rafa fighting for No. 1 and 2 are definitely over, or do you see a situation maybe in 2012 where they can fight again for 1 and 2 and you be the No. 3 in the world?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I don't think it's over. Look, you know, both of them, they're playing incredible tennis still. You know, even though maybe Roger didn't have the year as successful as he had in last five, six years, I still think he's playing really well. He's I'm sure very much motivated to come back to the No. 1 of the world.
From all of us, he knows the best how it is to win the major events because he's record holder. He has 16 Grand Slams, has a fantastic career, and so I'm sure he wants to come back there.
And Rafa is -- he's, you know, unbelievable player that is very complete that can perform equally well on all surfaces. He has proven that. We have played in five finals this year. I mean, I got the edge on all these matches, but, you know, that doesn't mean that I will win every single next match that we play in.
The fact is that they have been the two most dominant players in the world. Even though I'm still No. 1, they are most -- the best two most successful players that there are active in today's tennis.

Q. In the last match you played Andy Murray. How would you assess him just now, and what would it be like to play him again here?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I'm sorry, man, it's very hard to get the accent.

Q. Scotland.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Scotland. I think I get --

Q. Want me to repeat?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: No, that's fine. I have been talking to Andy many times, so I'm really kind of getting his accent. (Laughter.)
Andy, you know, he has won in Cincinnati. He's definitely a player that everybody should look up to now. In US Open he's been always playing well in last four, five years in the US Open Series.
He's been always coming I think to US Open with 1000 or Masters Series title, so I'm sure he's very eager to win his first Grand Slam.
We all, we are all fully aware of his potential and we are all fully aware that he has great talent. There are some things that he just needs to get together mentally. You know, he has proven that he can win against anybody on any surface.
I'm sure he's one of the favorites to win the tournament.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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