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AUSTRALIAN OPEN


January 18, 2013


Novak Djokovic


MELBOURNE, VICTORIA

N. DJOKOVIC/R. Stepanek
6‑4, 6‑3, 7‑5


THE MODERATOR:  Questions, please.

Q.  Is it fair to say that was your toughest match so far?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Well, yes, definitely.  I mean, I wasn't expecting an easy match coming into the third round and playing a seeded player.  Top 30 in the world.  Somebody that has a lot of experience playing on the tour.
He loves the big stage.  You saw how much fun he had.  I also had a lot of fun playing.  It was a very entertaining match.  As I said on the court, he's very skillful, comes to the net, never gives you the same ball twice.  That's something that makes him a different player from most of the guys.

Q.  We did an interview with Radek and he said the only way to beat you is to play the game that you play, come to the net, to change the pace.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  I won't answer what is the game to beat me, that's for sure (smiling).
But it was working well for him today.  It was three close sets.  You know, I felt that I had much more chances on his serve than he had on my serve.
Maybe I could have won the third set earlier.  But credit to him, he always played well when he needed to.
So it wasn't an easy match.

Q.  It was a serious match, a real tennis match; there was some theater, exhibition.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Well, it's the third round of a Grand Slam.  I think that says enough.
I think both of us, we want to win the match.  Even though we enjoy, there is no exhibition here.  You want to win on the court.
But of course you're enjoying.  I mean, we know each other well for many years.  As I said, I have respect for him because he's a fighter, he's a competitor, and somebody that, you know, is one of the rare players that comes to the net nowadays and mixes up his style of the game.
It's nice to see the flat forehand.  You know, it's very unusual style of the game for this modern tennis.

Q.  Radek was talking about one of the big sports stories of the day is Lance Armstrong admitting he used steroids.  The interview was happening during your match and he wanted to se it.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Oh, really?  I just heard the news.  I haven't seen the interview, but I heard he was admitting that.

Q.  Is that the kind of thing you'd definitely want to see for yourself?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  I mean, you know, I think everybody was expecting him to do that.  I mean, it would be ridiculous for him to decline and refuse all the charges because it has been proven.  They have like a thousand proofs that he's positive.  I think it's a disgrace for the sport to have an athlete like this.
He cheated the sport.  He cheated many people around the world with his career, with his life story.  I think they should take all his titles away because it's not fair towards any sportsman, any athlete.  It's just not the way to be successful.  So I think he should suffer for his lies all these years.

Q.  How comfortable are you that drug testing in tennis is rigorous enough?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:¬† Well, in tennis, you know, at least from my perspective, it's really good.¬† Anti‑doping regulations a little bit maybe more strict in sense that you have to fill the whereabouts documents and you have to basically give an hour or two in every day of your life in a whole year, where you are.
But on the other hand, it gives them an opportunity to test you.¬† And you know it is the same for the other players.¬† At least from that point of view it's fair.¬† And I have nothing against, you know, the anti‑doping federation, association, testing me 10, 20, 30 times a year.
I think as long as I know as many numbers of testing for the other players, I'll be happy.

Q.  How about blood testing?  The ITF records tell us in the whole of 2011 there was only 18 blood tests taken of the top players.  How often would you or Andy or Roger or Rafa be blood tested?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Yeah, I wasn't tested with blood for last six, seven months.  It was more regularly in last two, three years ago.  I don't know the reason why they stopped it.
As I said, I mean, as long as it's fair, it's clean, we're trying to protect the identity of this sport.  I believe tennis players are one of the most cleanest athletes in the world and one of the most competitive sports.
So as long as we keep it that way, I have no complaints about testing.

Q.¬† Would you disagree with Darren Cahill who said today that he believes the Anti‑Doping Program in tennis is inadequate and it's been going backwards in recent years?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  What is the reason for that?

Q.  That's his opinion.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Well, I mean, I don't know.  There has to be a reason why he said that, backstory.
I know Darren.  He's a great guy, somebody that knows tennis really well, so must be something why he said that.
But in my opinion, yeah, there has been a complaints from players in few years, last few years, about this whereabouts system.  Why do we need to write where we are every single day of our 365 days when most of the time we're spending on the courts and so forth.
Maybe that is something that is, you know, questionable.  But on the other hand as many urine, as many blood sample tests they take, the better.  Then you're aware that it's a clean sport and everybody has the same treatment.

Q.¬† I think part of the issue is out‑of‑competition blood testing is expensive to carry out.¬† Do you think the ITF should make it more of a priority to spend more money on that?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  I mean, it's a question for them, I guess.  From my point, I mean, I was more than clear.  I have nothing against the blood tests, you know.
Even though I prefer urine more.  I don't like the needles too much.  But, of course, I mean, you know, the money in that direction should be invested because, you know, it's always let's say a safeguard for our sport that they're investing money in our sport that is going to protect our sport and players.

Q.  A lot of cycling fans have lost a lot of faith in that sport now.  Do you think tennis fans should be confidant that nothing like this...
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  I lost a lot of faith in cycling.  I used to watch it.  All the big champions that were there, Marco Pantani, now Lance Armstrong.  Yeah, I don't want to say all.  I really don't know.  There has been so much controversy about that sport.
I'm sure that there are many cyclists in the world who are training very hard and trying to not use any enhancing drugs for their competition.
But I think it's not acceptable that they have physically so much races in short period of the time.  I think basically every single day, day and a half, they have to go through 200 miles.  Uphill, downhill in Giro D'Italia, Tour de France, that's inhuman effort.  As you can see, Lance Armstrong, many other big champions, had to use something to succeed.

Q.  Do you think tennis fans should have faith that that won't happen the same way?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  The results are showing that.  In last few years there maybe has been one or two cases, but those players were more or less outside of the hundred.  We are keeping this sport clean.  We are working towards it.  There is awareness with the players and with the officials.  As long as is like that, we are in a good road.

Q.  Would you be in favor of like a biological passport program that they're instituting in cycling for tennis?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:¬† I mean, you know, we can discuss about the options for a while.¬† But generally I believe that the present regulations about anti‑doping tests in tennis are good, in my views.¬† I don't think there should be any major changes because, as you know, it's official.¬† We have to write where we are every day of our lives so they have an opportunity to test us every day of 365 days in a year.
I think that doesn't give anybody a chance to do something that is unsportsmanlike.

Q.  I think the highest ranked teenagers are ranked 200 something for the men.  Does that show how physical it is and how much maturity it takes for the guys to come through?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Yes, I believe the competition is evolving and it's growing last few years, and I think that makes it even more difficult for the youngsters to come up and make a breakthrough.
But, you know, again, if you're a world class, quality player, you're gonna find your way through.¬† You know, there are players like Raonic, Tomic, Dimitrov, those kind of players are expected to become top‑10 players in the near future, and we'll see how they will go.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports




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