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October 10, 2012

Novak Djokovic


N. DJOKOVIC/G. Dimitrov
6‑3, 6‑2

THE MODERATOR:  Questions, please.

Q.  You served four games at love and never lost more than one point on your service game.  You must be pretty pleased with your serving today.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Very pleased with my serving in Beijing and obviously the first match today.  So that's something that I've been working on, obviously.  Relying on the serve in today's tennis is a big advantage.  So I try to get as many free points as possible.  Today that was the case.  It helped me a lot to defeat my opponent.

Q.  In your recent message of your Facebook, you quote a Nobel prize winner's words:  There's no greater task than to support somebody's development.  Can you tell us why this sentence makes you so impressed.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Well, he's one of the biggest people we have in the history.  Obviously quoting him is always an honor and a pleasure.
So, I mean, I know that there is a lot of people around the world who follow what I do, so I try to put some positive influence in any way possible in most of the fans that I have.  Especially here, they're teenagers.  So helping them, advising them in any way in order to give them some direction in life or in sport if they want to do that.
I'm very happy because I know that I'm blessed to be in the position to have this opportunity, to help people, to advise them in any way.

Q.  A less philosophical question.  Do you think the sport misses Rafa, that there is a certain energy and excitement that is missing at tournaments when Rafa isn't here?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Well, there is definitely a difference when he's around and when he's not around.  I don't think there's a big difference, a significant one which would maybe affect in a negative way tournaments where we are playing.
But there is still, you know, a big group of people that follows him, support him.  He's definitely one of the best tennis players ever to play the game and an extremely popular global, successful athlete, recognized all over the world.  So there is a certain excitement when he's around, that's for sure.

Q.  I have two questions.  Firstly, I noticed that after the match you used Chinese to say thanks to the Chinese audience.  Who did you learn this Chinese sentence from?  How long have you been practicing?  Secondly, we know you are the happy man on the court.  You have special ways to celebrate.  For example, you imitate Sharapova or Federer or do the horse dance Gangnam style.  If you win the championship this time, will you have any special ways to celebrate?  Can you tell us beforehand?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  That's a very long question (laughter).
Well, I've learned that from my fans in Beijing, how to draw the sign, how to write it.  As I understood, that is representing the certain letter that is my nickname in Chinese, how they call me.  So I try to make my promise and return to the fans at least a piece of love that they've been giving me in this two weeks here in Asia.
I've been enjoying their support.  It's interesting.  I try to learn always languages and cultures where I'm in, where I'm playing.  Hopefully I can get something more out of that.
Regarding the celebrations, you know, the most celebration obviously comes when you win the tournament, so there is still a long way to that success here.  It would be great, but I'm not planning anything.

Q.  Getting back to philosophical questions.  I'm wondering, you speak so many languages.  You can happily go from Italian to English.  Now you're sort of thinking about Chinese as well.  Were you good at school?  Your immediate contemporary from Scotland admits his school days were pretty much a waste of time.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  He wouldn't be happy to hear that (laughter).

Q.  We'll, he's admitted it.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  I didn't have a childhood school education as probably most of my generation did in Serbia and around the world.  I didn't go to school every day.  The high school, I had to come back and do the exams two, three times a year.  That was the case.
I never went to university.  Well, if I can say, that's one wish that I have in life, one regret that I would like to go in some university, because I really like the idea of educating yourself and being a part of a group of students.  It's a fun period in one person's life.
Was I good in the school?  It's tough to say.  I'm trying to be modest, so I'll say I was good enough.

Q.  Did your brothers go to school?

Q.  Regular school?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Yeah, they went.  They're still going.  The youngest one is still going.  But he doesn't go to the regular everyday school.  I don't know how you call it in English.  He's still in the school, but he's traveling, and he has the exception of coming and doing the exams every semester.

Q.  Where did you pick up all the languages?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  In the school.  I have the base from there.  When I was 12, I went to Germany and I stayed there for a couple months.  Luckily I had German in the school, so I learned the basics of that language in the school, then I started communicating.
I don't think that you can really learn that.  You just have it in you.  Both of my brothers speak a few languages.  It's something that I guess we have in the family.

Q.  And the English?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  English also basics in the school, and we had a little computer that I cannot remember what it was called.  But that's where I learned English more intensely.  I had phrases I had to repeat in Serbian and English.  That computer we still have at home.  We learned it from there when we were eight, nine, ten years old.
The good thing about the Serbian school system is you need to have two languages in your primary school.  English is the obligatory one, then the second one you can choose.  I had German.  It was worth it because I was living in Germany.  And English, everybody speaks more or less in Serbia.

Q.  Murray's match was arranged after your match.  While you were competing, Murray got into the next round.  What do you think?  The second question is, I heard you caught a cold in Beijing.  What is your situation now?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Well, I mean, it happens.  I can't really say much about Murray and Florian today.  He had an injury and he had to pull out.  That's what I heard after my match.
Yeah, I did catch a little cold in Beijing.  Still fighting it.  For now I'm able to play.  Trying to keep it that way.

Q.  Following up on Rafa.  We're in an era now where we've had for the last three, four years four great players.  Rafa is injured at the moment.  Roger is 31.  At some stage he will stop playing.  Do you think that will be a problem for tennis in two or three years' time if there's no Rafa, no Roger?  I'm sure yourself and Andy will still be there.  There doesn't appear to be anyone immediately who you would think is going to join your level.  Do you think that will be a problem having had such a great era until now?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Well, it's great what we're in.  There's no doubt about it.  Federer and Nadal are two very popular athletes.  As I said, both of them, maybe two out of four best players ever to play this game.  So to be able to compete with them, it is something special.
But I know as somebody, when I was starting to play professional tennis tournaments, got to No.3 of the world, I know how much struggle I had to go through mentally.  Obviously with confidence and self‑belief, you know, after I lost many of the important matches against those guys.  But they made me also work harder.  They made me believe more in myself, be more professional, more dedicated.
It is great to be part of their era.  It is what it is.  But as expected in a course of life you get a new generation that is coming up.  Andy won his first Grand Slam this year.  But he always was one of the best players in the world in the last four years.  We have Del Potro.  We have some newcomers like Raonic, Berdych is always there, and Tomic.
Let's call it Federer and Nadal's fault that those guys were not able to make a bigger breakthrough, faster breakthrough to the top 10.  But I think today the tennis is much more competitive physically and mentally also.  By all of the top players playing the major events and not getting injured on a regular basis in the last five years, that says enough about the level of tennis that we are in right now.  So it makes it more difficult for the young talents to come up and make a breakthrough.
We'll see.  I believe that tennis will stay the way it is because we're experiencing some really good times.  I'm sure that more players will join that top group.

Q.  Do you consider yourself now a self‑educator in the way that Jim Courier did?  He finished high school, but he read a lot, was insistent upon experiencing the places he went beyond the tennis courts, the hotel and the airports.  You seem knowledgeable about the world beyond the tennis.
Well, tennis is a very demanding sport.  It's cruel in the way that you don't really get a lot of free time to do things that you would like, to go places you would like to see, and to maybe experience something else, to learn something new.
But regarding the education, it obviously depends from persontoperson.  But I believe you always need to have time for that.
You're right.  As an individual, as somebody that spends a lot of time in the hotels on the tournaments, on the road, has a lot of downtime in the hotels, and that is when you can use it for your own good.
But it's obviously not easy.  It's not as easy as people think because you're going through a lot of mental challenges, let's call it, in the head during the tournament.  So as physically exhausting as it is, equally mental.  A lot of players need to relax, rest.  It's a personal choice.

Q.  Do you read a lot?

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