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March 8, 2013

Novak Djokovic


THE MODERATOR:  Questions, please.

Q.  So far so good?  How do you feel?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  So far so good, as you said.  Couldn't ask for a better start of the season, winning Australia and Dubai, playing on hard courts, which is my most successful and most preferable surface that suits my game the best.
So I won this tournament in the past, and I like spending time here and in Miami these few weeks.  Hopefully I can maintain the high level of performance and move into these weeks with a great deal of confidence.

Q.  Have you started to feel the same insight as you did in 2011?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Yeah, well, it feels the same in a way, you know, the way I started the year.  I have great memories from 2011.  That was by far my most successful year in the career.
It's very early still to say what's going to happen, so I don't want to predict anything.  My mindset will stay the same, and that is to enjoy the moment, to be in the moment, to try to do my best in the present, and take it step by step and then see how far I can go.

Q.  Traditionally, even before your breakout year, you have always been this good this time of year from Australia through here and Miami.  Why is that?  Why do you think you play so well and such great tennis so early when maybe some other players don't?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Well, I can't speak in the name of the other players, but as I said before, hard courts are my favorite surface.  This is where I feel most comfortable and confident on the court, and, you know, obviously winning in Australia for last couple of years gives me a strong sense of confidence which I carry into this tournament.
I think that's one of the big reasons why I tend to play my best in this period.

Q.  But is it also saying something you do in your offseason work coming into this season that leaves you better prepared or very well prepared?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Yeah, well, I mean, it's an individual sport, so, I mean, each player has a different approach to their preparation process, and I don't try to look what the others do.  I have a certain routine with my team that has been around me for last seven years or more, and that we respect that certain program that brought us a lot of success.
So it hasn't changed.  We do modify it here and there, but generally, it's the same.

Q.  In just the past week or so it's been Dubai, LA, fundraisers, commercials, a lot of praise and so forth.  That's pretty incredible to be the No. 1 player in anything, especially tennis.  Could you just talk about that process, how it feels to you?  Is that something that you really like all the time?  Is it sometimes a pain in the neck?  Is it a kind of a wow factor?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Well, I'm 25.  I'm still very young, and I'm trying to enjoy everything that the life offers me.
So I'm living in the moment.  I'm embracing and cherishing everything that I get from the life in every day, really.
So I have had a great experiences in LA for two days after Dubai, although my coaches are not really happy with my off‑court activities because they are plenty.  (Smiling.)
No, I always try to prioritize the tennis schedule and preparations.  I always have that in the back of my mind, you know.
Even when I'm shooting three‑pointers in the pregame of Lakers, I always have in the back of my mind not to injure myself.

Q.  Talk more about the Lakers, though.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  It was great.  I met Kobe, Dwight Howard, Steve Nash.  Great athletes and great personalities, really, all of them.  I was really surprised that they liked tennis.  And Dwight Howard, in his own way, in words, was describing to me how much he was playing tennis and how he won the tournament when he was in 8th grade because his teachers made him play tennis for the first time and he discovered that talent.
So maybe, you know, with those shoulders he can have a big serve.  Maybe he can break the record.  Who knows, with the right technique.
Steve Nash also loves tennis.
Kobe just recently started playing.  I think we're gonna have to change his racquet, though.  The selection of the racquet is not really good.
But he's being flexible and he's been stretching.  I met him in the locker room before the match, and so we talked about, you know, the importance of flexibility and being ready.
I mean, especially now ‑‑ he was joking about his age, but I think he's more fit than ever, really.  I have been a big basketball, NBA fan for a long time, and for the first time ever I managed to get floor seats.
So from a professional athlete's perspective, to see other big and successful athletes from just close by, nearby, you know, moving, sweating, and just fighting their way through to the game was incredible.  It was a really great experience.
And then of course the next day we had a charity, The LA Tennis Challenge.  It was Pete Sampras, the Bryan brothers.  It was great to see the LA crowd respond to the tennis in such a positive way.
Unfortunately LA does not have any more ATP tournament, but maybe this can, again, elevate that, I guess interest for tennis in LA, because it's a huge media market.  It's a huge city, and there is big potential for the sport.

Q.  I wanted just to ask you another thing about another sport.  Do you think that AC Milan has any chance against Barcelona on Tuesday?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Absolutely.

Q.  Yeah?  Who will score?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  I would say Barcelona has a chance against AC Milan.  I think that's the right way to ask the question.  (Smiling.)
Because AC Milan won first game 2‑0.  I think they're the favorites to go through.

Q.  You do?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  I'm their fan.  I'm very, very sensitive on these questions.  (Laughter.)
I'm kidding, I'm kidding.  Of course Barcelona is the top team for many years already and it's gonna be very tough.
But, look, you know, as an AC Milan fan, I was a bit positively surprised of course with the score in the first game, and now I can't wait for the next Wednesday and see how it goes.
You know, hopefully the right form of AC Milan can carry them through to the next round.

Q.  Have you seen television, Rafa playing on clay?  Are you surprised how easily he won against Ferrer...
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  I have seen a few of his matches, not the whole matches, but a few games of matches in the first week and the third week.  I mean, he's still very impressive on clay, you know.  Not much has changed.  I think that's his favorite surface.  He's the king of clay.  You know, he's so comfortable playing there.
I'm not surprised that he has won two out of three titles.  Maybe I'm a little bit surprised with the score against Ferrer, who we all know is an incredible competitor and fighter and who also loves to play on clay courts.
But, look, you know, it's now been three tournaments in last four weeks for Rafa, and, you know, he doesn't show any signs of pain in the knees and something that can distract him now.  He's on the right way, you know.
As his colleague and friend, I can say that it's really great to see him back for our sport in general, for fans, for everyone who loves tennis, because he's such a popular and charismatic player and is recognized all over the world.
It's good to see him and good to see him playing.

Q.  Follow‑up to the last question.  You mentioned Rafa as colleague and friend, opponent on the court and a rival.  If you wear the hat of the tennis fan, have you ever been concerned that the style of his game would take the real pounding for his knee on hard court?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Well, you know, I think that's ultimately the question for him, you know, how much he really ‑‑I mean, he really suffers and how much the hard courts, which I understand are the most difficult for him, are taking the toll on his knees and on his health.
From my perspective, I have been, well, his colleague and rival for last seven, eight years, and I have been watching him and playing against him on different surfaces.  I understand what he has to go through to play in such style, you know, of the game that he possesses because he's very physical, you know, and it's very demanding for him.
He loves to slide.  He loves to run around the court and do a lot of dynamic strong movements that eventually, you know, can hurt him, as they did in the last seven months.
I don't know how his recovery process is, but being so long off the tour, I'm sure that he has taken his time and is very patient‑‑ even though I understand how he felt, you know, when he doesn't play for so long.  I mean, it really hurts because it's inside of you.  You're so competitive and you love the sport you want to play.
But, you know, probably had a smart team of people around him that advised him to take it easy, and now it resulted with a great comeback.

Q.  You touched on it a while ago about the run you had in Australia and all that, but now this is a busy month for you, Indian Wells, Miami, Davis Cup, as well.  How do you handle that?  It's not too often that you would be playing three events back to back over five weeks.  The second part of it is what do you know about Boise?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  (Smiling) Well, the Davis Cup is a very unique competition for me and I think for many players because we get to represent our country.  That's one of the rare occasions in this competition where we do get to play, you know, and get to feel the team spirit, you know.
So I love being part of the competition, even though the scheduling is really tough, you know, especially on the top players that reach the final stages of most of the tournaments and push it all the way.
So, you know, you don't get to really have a lot of break, but that was the case for me after Australia.  I went straight to play on indoor clay court, totally different conditions.
Luckily for me and everybody it finished in the right way and we are through and we are going to play the United States, probably the most successful team in the Davis Cup.
So it's not going to be easy, but, again, you said it's three events in five weeks.  It's still all right.  I mean, it's still not as physically demanding as maybe some previous situations that I have had when I played three events in three weeks.
So I have had situations.  I know how I need to treat my body, how I need to, you know, prepare for this kind of physical involvement.  So I'm looking forward to it.  I'm looking forward to go and play with my team.
I always love this seven, ten days spending with friends and just representing Serbia.  It's really fantastic.  We won the title in 2010 that gave so much of us such a great deal of confidence and helped us in our individual careers.
Boise?  I didn't know much until I informed myself through Google and Internet.  (Laughter.)
I have seen that there is an altitude obviously of 800 meters, and that goes to favor obviously of American team.  That's why they chose there, because big serves of John Isner and Sam Querrey.
On the other hand, I don't know.  I wish I could go skiing in Sun Valley, which is very close.  I have some friends that live there.
But unfortunately, I'm going to have to stay with the racquet and play my best and try to get a win.

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