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June 24, 2012

Novak Djokovic


THE MODERATOR:  Good morning, ladies and gentlemen.  Who would like to ask the first question.

Q.  How would you describe your game on grass and what are maybe your weaknesses and your strengths on this surface?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Well, over the years, you know, I've been playing better on this surface.  Obviously the grass courts are slower than they were maybe 15, 20 years ago.  They are more suitable to the baseline players.
So it goes to the favor of my style of the game.
You know, especially in the second week where on the main courts you don't see as much grass and the ball bounces a bit higher, and so it gets a bit slower.
But, yeah, I mean, as I said, it's suitable to the baseline players.  You can expect a long rallies.  But still grass is the fastest surface we have in sport, so it takes time to adjust obviously from the long clay court season.
But I always try to be more aggressive, to get more to the net, try to play a shorter points.

Q.  There's been talk recently about the time between the French Open and the change of surfaces.  Any comment you'd like to make about that?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  There have been talks.  The bottom line is that we are all trying to work for the good of the sport.  The players, the officials, tournaments, everybody who is involved in tennis, we all love this sport and all try to make it better for everybody.
We had this schedule forever, I think.  I thought that there has been maybe a slight change over the years, but it has been always exactly the same with only two weeks between end of Roland Garros and start of Wimbledon.
My personal opinion, of course, is that this it is too short.  We need an extra week, because it would work in the favor of players because it would give especially the top players a little bit more time to get used to the surface.
Logically speaking, it is the slowest surface that we're talking about, clay, moving to the fastest one, which takes time.  Over the years we all had to adjust.
So the schedule is as it is and we all accept it, but we will try to find the better solution and work for the better of the sport.

Q.  Can you talk a little bit about your first match?  What do you expect from Ferrero, and if you would keep trying as he's trying at his age?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Yes, he was a former No.1 of the world; idol of many generations back in Spain; he's a Grand Slam winner; Davis Cup winner; somebody really that people appreciate.  Everybody who follows tennis, especially us, the tennis players, we really respect him a lot.
As you said, after everything he has been through, he is still trying to go back to the top.  He is always dangerous.  If you look at him now, I think he's playing equally well as he was playing four, five years ago.  Now it's just a matter of his fitness obviously and his confidence on the court.
He definitely has a lot of experience playing on the big stage, so I'm not underestimating him, that's for sure.  It's going to be a good first‑round match.

Q.  How would you describe the emotional and competitive meaning of the Olympics to you?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Well, Olympic Games are pinnacle of all sports, in my opinion.  I had this honor to be representing my country four years ago in Beijing.  I won the bronze medal, so it was one of the best achievements and best feelings I had as a professional athlete.
Most of the tournaments that we play ‑ actually all the tournaments we play ‑ we play as an individual tennis players.  There are very few competitions as Olympic Games where we can feel the team spirit, as in Davis Cup.  But this is even more.  It makes you really proud of wearing your national colors, having athletes from your country coming to support you, going to the Olympic Village, of course the opening ceremony and everything.
It is very emotional because it is not just you who matters there, it's the whole nation.  So there is a huge excitement going on with all the tennis players prior to the Olympic Games.

Q.  Last year you won here the first time on grass.  How much does it change your attitude and self‑belief to know that you have done it on this surface entering this tournament?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Well, it gives me a lot of confidence, that's for sure.  I'm playing with more self‑belief on this surface, which is the rarest surface we have now in sport.  We don't get much opportunity to play on grass, only couple weeks a year.  But this actually the surface that our sport has been started to play on firstly over the years.
But I realized my dreams last year.  I played a perfect tournament.  I like the conditions here.  I've been in several locations in semifinals, so I'm confident before the start of 2012.

Q.  Andy Murray is coming for a bit of criticism for showing exactly how he's feeling on the court.  To what extent do you think about the image you project to your opponent?  How much of an impact do you think it has on your opponent?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  I think it's very subjective.  Every player has a different behavior, different character, different way of presenting himself on and off the court.  This is, as I said, very subjective.  I cannot judge anybody.  I respect everybody's decisions and freedoms to do whatever they want.
But, of course, on the court you always try to, in my opinion, hide whatever you're feeling from your opponent.  You don't want to show your opponent that you're struggling too much because you're revealing your weaknesses, obviously.

Q.  Rafael Nadal could very soon again take over the world No.1 spot in the ranking.  Does that make you worried or nervous or more determined?  Is that an issue for you at all now?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  It's not an issue at all.  I mean, I'm feeling great on the court, and that's what matters the most for me.  I'm focusing on my next tournament.  Rankings are following up all the results, the good success that you achieve as a player, I think.  If you worry too much about calculations, you're going to lose that necessary focus on the court.
That's my mindset right now.

Q.  It may be a silly question, but the ATP recent forbade blue clay.  We're on green grass; hopefully it never turns pink.  What traditions should be kept and which ones can we redo?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  There's a lot of talks about the blue clay this year.  It's a very sensitive subject.  The fact of the matter I think is that we had too many players complaining about it in Madrid.
As I said before, and I'll say it again, I like innovations in sport.  I like people who are creative and brave enough to, let's say, think outside of the box and try to bring something new, something interesting.
But, of course, that only counts if you have the support of the players.  Unfortunately, most of us players didn't even try the blue clay, so we didn't feel comfortable playing on it.
In one way I'm happy we're going back to the red clay there.  But look, you know, I'm always supporting the new ideas, as long as we are all aware of it, as long as we all understand what is going on.
But tradition is something that this sport was always nurturing, that we should always respect.

Q.  You were so close to the Djoko slam.  How did you turn the page?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Well, I had to do it.  It's behind me now.  Yes, I was so close, even though there was a slight disappointment after the match because I was aware of the chance that I had in Roland Garros.
But the day after I felt good about my tournament, about my achievement in Paris.  It was the first time I ever have been in the finals of Roland Garros.  That's a step further from all these years that I've been playing in Paris.  That's something that made me satisfied.
You know, I'm still only 25, so I believe that I have a lot more years and a lot more chances to win Roland Garros.

Q.  It seems from what you said earlier, if you could win one tournament this year it would be the Olympics.  Is this kind of a dress rehearsal for that?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  I don't believe that Wimbledon can be rehearsal for anything (smiling).  It's most respected, most well‑known, most valuable tennis tournament in the world.  This is, in my opinion, the pinnacle of our sport.
Of course, Olympic Games are something outside comparison with any other tournaments.
But it's going to be interesting to see colors in Wimbledon, I believe, because we always go out on the court all white dressed.  We're going to have the opportunity to wear the national colors, so it's going to be interesting to see that.
Yeah, I mean, knowing that I had great success in 2011 on Wimbledon grass, you know, actually gives me confidence before this year's Wimbledon and Olympic Games.

Q.  Watching the Federer/Nadal rivalry over the years, what did you take most from the way those guys played and the way they conducted themselves that may have influenced the way you're dealing with your rivalry with Nadal and everything about your career today?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Well, their rivalry is one of the most respected rivalries in the history of our sport, if not the biggest rivalry.  They're two great champions, two tennis players that made the history of this sport.  Every time you a see a Federer/Nadal match, everybody is excited.  Even I'm excited to see it because it's something that goes on for many years.
Of course, playing against both of them made me a better player.  Just competing at this top level, I was going through a lot of emotions.  I was going through the years of doubting if I can really win more Grand Slams, overcome the challenges of Nadal and Federer at the later stages of major events.  I managed to do that.
As you said, they also made me work harder.  They also made me a better player and made me understand what I need to do on the court and off the court as well.

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