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March 9, 2012

Novak Djokovic


THE MODERATOR:  Questions, please.

Q.  You have been coming here for a while.  You have been in the final a couple years, and then of course you won last year and this great run started here.  How do you feel coming back?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Well, it's always good to be back in a place where I did so well in last five years, played finals and won two titles, so it's always a challenge.  It's always something to look forward to, because it's one of the best events that we have in the sport.
It's the first 1000 event of the year.  I guess everybody had time after Australia to recover, to get rest, and play some events prior to Indian Wells and Miami, which, you know, which are big fields.
You know, you need to play lots of matches and you play against best players in the world.  You know, the conditions here are suitable to my style of the game.  I think the courts are a little bit slower, which I like and prefer better.
So I'm looking forward to this week.

Q.  For you, what's the key to hitting good service returns?  Is there any sign that you have that you know you're really zeroed in?  Today in the doubles you hit a couple that were unbelievable.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  True.  But a couple volleys really didn't work well.  (Smiling.)
But, yeah, I think regarding doubles today was good to have some match practice in the center court.  I haven't played on center court still this year, so before my first singles match was important to spend some time on that court.
Yeah, you know, regarding the return, I really rely on that, I think, segment of my game.  You know, I think over the years it has been serving me really well, and I felt really comfortable returning the serves from most of the players.
Obviously there is a lot of good servers around, so depends who I am playing against, you know, I am adjusting my positioning in the return.

Q.  What do you have to do differently, say, with Roger and Rafa and Andy, each of them?  What challenges...
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Well, again, that's why I'm saying when you're playing Rafa and Roger or Andy you're playing different players.  You know, Rafa is a left hander and he has maybe some more‑‑ you know, some serves which he has more preference to, you know, slice serve in the advantage court.
So it really depends.  You know, all these guys know how to serve.  Either they're serving well and they know how to use the serve in a good way.
Again, depends which surface.  You know, if it's slower, then you're trying to use a little bit more of the kick serve and body serve.
So I can't really say there is one rule, you know.

Q.  Last month you got a top honor from your country, also top honor from the sports of the world, and you currently have the top spot in tennis.  Do you feel on top of the world right now?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Look, you know, I still have the same daily routine, same approach to my career, to the life that I'm having.  I don't consider myself, you know, being in the top of the world, you know, being untouchable or unbeatable.  That's out of the question, you know.
I always try to give my 100% on every practice that I have, you know.  I always wanted to have the positive mindset in preparing well for every event, for every season.
I think that helps me to stay committed and focused on what I need to do.  My job is to play tennis, you know, to win matches and try to win as many titles as possible.  And then every award that I receive is definitely very flattering and very appreciative from my side.
I am more than happy and satisfied for receiving, you know, the highest honor of Serbia, which is more than just award, you know.
And then Laureus as well.  It's the first time in my life that I receive something like this.  It definitely, you know, makes me reflect on the 2011 especially season that I had.  It's the best of my career, and, yeah, I'm at the peak of my form, peak of my career in this moment.
I need to use that, you know, I need to try to be as dedicated as possible to the game, because I still have, I hope, many more years to come.

Q.  Roland Garros will be the next Grand Slam.  Can you tell me what is your best memory in Paris?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Well, I had a good couple of years playing in Roland Garros.  Unfortunately I didn't reach finals yet in Paris.  I have played I think three or four semifinals, and mostly against Rafa, and had some really good matches there.
I think one of the most exciting matches was definitely the one against Roger, you know, last year, even though I lost that match.  But I still think that it was a pretty special one because we went the distance.  We went up to what, 9:00, 9:15 in the evening with no lights and with a full stadium.
So it has a special feel about it.  Roland Garros is my favorite Grand Slam.  I love playing there.  So hopefully this year I can make at least a step further.

Q.  The loss is your best memory of...
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Yeah, I mean, losses are a part of the sport.  So even though ‑‑ I think it was one of the best memories because it was a long match and it was one of the better matches as well that I have played, but he was a better player that day.

Q.  Obviously when you go play at the French they will be talking about a calendar year Grand Slam.  Have you entertained that thought of possibly achieving that?  And also, last year when you went to Roland Garros you had the long winning streak going into Roland Garros.  Do you think the pressure and the attention you had last year at Roland Garros, will that prepare you for this year when you go there, attempting to complete a calendar year Grand Slam?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  The fact is that there is always pressure and always expectations for somebody that is a top player, and it's something that you can understand and expect.
But, you know, you have to deal with the pressure.  You have to understand it, you know, cherish it and accept it as a challenge, and just try to take the best out of it and give your best on every match that you play.
As I said, you know, I need to keep my simple‑minded focus on every tournament I play on, because that is the way that I can stay grounded and I can stay committed.
And for all the other speculations off the court, you know, I cannot influence and I understand that there will be talks.
But I think anyone who wins the Australian Open, the first Grand Slam of the year, has eventually chance to win all four Grand Slams of the year.  I guess that that subject is opening up, you know, for everybody.
So, I mean, I would just try to take one tournament at a time.

Q.  You said you have stayed grounded and stayed focused and everything.  I'm curious, have you noticed a lot of changes in the way other people perceive you or the way they approach you or anything?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  There is a certain difference, definitely, in the attention that I'm getting obviously with successful year that I had in 2011.
But it's flattering, you know.  I try to appreciate that in every possible way.  I respect everybody's opinion, but I still have the same approach.

Q.  You have had so many great victories to be happy about.  Do you remember the last time that you were seriously disappointed?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Well, it was probably against Roger in French Open last year.  Even though it was first loss of the year, I think it was a tough one.  He was a better player that day, so I wasn't disappointed with my game because I think I played well.  I think I went for all my shots.  I mean, I wasn't being too defensive there.
But still, you know, it was a disappointing loss because I was hoping that I can play the first final in Roland Garros.

Q.  And your loss to Murray last week, was that one you were able to put aside pretty quickly?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Yeah.  Look, I haven't played great there in that event, especially that day he was playing better.
But, still, you know, I'm putting that aside.  I'm moving on.  You know, I have very, very important tournaments ahead of me that I need to prepare for.

Q.  All these successes you've piled up since the start of last year, what are you most proud of?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Well, I have to say that I'm very, very proud of my consistency, you know, the results throughout the whole year.
You know, the biggest success was Wimbledon, winning that title, winning the tournament that I always dreamed of winning, so I guess I can take that out.

Q.  You have quite the margin at the top of the game today, but basically every week you're defending a title.  Does that cross your mind?  Do you feel any pressure saying, I'm defending that many points, or do you never think about it?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  I talked about it actually in Australia, saying that I believe that the right mindset is to always try to be a part of that group of the players that is going to win the title, you know, going to hunt that title, and that every year is different.
So I'm not really trying to position myself as a defending champion, because then defending, you know, is not really something that I want to have.  So I always try to get that aggressive approach.

Q.  Were you surprised at the amount of attention Marko getting the wildcard in Dubai got?  Are you going to try to arrange for him to have wildcards in more ATP tournaments this year and the future?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Well, that depends, again.  It was an opportunity, and we were very grateful for the tournament considering him for wildcard and allowing him to play the biggest tournament of his career.
He's has been struggling a lot with injuries the past couple of years, but he has a different path, he has a different way, and he needs to establish himself first as a player, as a person.
Now he's trying to come back to the tour, and he's going to have to start ‑‑ most of the tournaments he plays are futures, you know, and maybe some challengers, so I guess he's going to have to pass that level and then get to the tour level.

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