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March 12, 2013

Novak Djokovic


N. DJOKOVIC/G. Dimitrov
7‑6, 6‑1

THE MODERATOR:  Questions, please.

Q.  Two questions:  First, what do you think about Dimitrov's play?  He's the youngest player that's at this stage of the tournament.  And second question is did you watch the game between Barça and Milan?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Well, Grigor is a very talented player who possesses the potential to be very good.  He's already top 30 player, so made a few good results this year.  We'll see how it goes.
Obviously he needs experience.  He needs to be consistent with his results on all surfaces in order to be a top player, and I think he knows that.
He started off well today, but then, you know, I think he gave me the break with four double faults.  You know, I haven't done much really in the match in the second set when I made two breaks.  It was all of his unforced errors, so I just needed to hang in there and try to be patient.
He did all the work, you know, making winners and making unforced errors.  Yeah, I think over the time he's going to gain that mental stability through the experience in the big matches.  But it's not easy to expect from a young player to be already feeling very confident at the big stage.  But he definitely has a great potential.
The other question, I have watched, and I don't want to talk about it.  (Smiling.)

Q.  You have played doubles here a lot in the past, it's one of the big doubles tournaments that a lot of the top singles players do play.  Can you talk about why you think that is and why you chose not to play doubles here?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Because I just didn't feel so fresh mentally and physically to play doubles, because, you know, I don't play, you know, to practice.  I play to win.
So I love playing doubles, but I also like to compete in doubles.  So I felt like I could not deliver my best, you know, and just decided not to play.  It was I think a better decision for my singles, you know, performance in this tournament.

Q.  With the way Dimitrov started today, were you concerned at that point, or did you feel, as you just pointed out, the inexperience aspect and that maybe things started walking away from him the way he was playing?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:¬† Well, he served well at the start, but I didn't do much also.¬† I kind of gave him the break at 2‑1.¬† It was not really a beautiful match to watch.¬† There were a lot of unforced errors, and we both look quite sluggish on the court, you know, very slow.
So I knew that the experience that I have, you know, in these kind of matches where both of us we don't feel so, you know, dynamic on the court and playing at our best, I knew that that experience will kick in and can be, you know, decisive in the matches like this.
So that's actually what happened, you know.  He made four double faults which is very unusual to see in men's tennis nowadays, but, you know, look, that's tennis.  Turned it around, and from then on I felt a little bit better.

Q.  You said it wasn't a beautiful match; he made a lot of unforced errors.  Apart from you getting the W, what positives do you take out of it today?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Well, just being able to not frustrate myself, you know, throughout the match, especially in the first set where I really played poorly, you know, in my opinion.  From my standard, I haven't brought my game to the level I wanted.
But I just wanted ‑‑I just tried to stay positive and calm and hang in there and wait for the chances.¬† So that's, I guess, the biggest positive I can take out of today's performance.

Q.  After experiencing LA Tennis Challenge, the electricity and the vibe, did you walk away feeling that it's more important than ever to try to get a tournament that you're able to fit into your schedule back to LA, or how important for the growth of tennis do you think it is having an event in that area?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Well, I think that the city like LA that is, I've heard, the second biggest media market in the world, deserves to have a big tournament, you know.  If it has a tournament, it has to be a big one, to be honest.  That's my opinion.
It's unfortunate that they lost the 250 event.¬† But to be honest, it wasn't as successful.¬† I think that's why they gave it away, because they have‑‑ they had no top players coming.
They had, in the past, top players from America because it's more convenient for players from the United States to participate in an event.  But for Europeans right after Wimbledon it doesn't fit in in the schedule.
We all know that the schedule nowadays is really demanding and has a lot of tournaments that are like set in stone.  It's really hard to make any significant changes there.  It's moving slow, you know, and hopefully it's going in the right directions, because I believe that now players are more united than ever, as I can see, and that's something that can give us, you know, a big step forward into improving the game in every sense of that word.

Q.¬† Obviously you're No. 1 ‑ which let's not take it for granted is a great achievement ‑ and you have so many strengths in your game:¬† backhand, return, defense to offense, your fitness and game management.¬† All of that.¬† Put your analytical hat on.¬† What are your two or three greatest strengths?¬† And also the flipside, if there is one thing you'd like to work on.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Well, my game is based on a baseline from back of the court.  That's where I feel most comfortable.  I was working particularly on two aspects of my game, and that is serve, more efficiency on the serve, and being more aggressive, coming into the net a little bit more often when I had the opportunity.
I think looking at the stats I have done it more often in the last six months than I ever done it in my career.¬† That's a very good thing to have.¬† And just knowing that I had a very, very positive six months and I got a lot of great results and tournaments under my belt with that game plan, that gives me‑‑ encourages me to continue on in doing the same.
Obviously there is always room for improvement, you know.¬† I know that I can‑‑ how good I can play, but I also know that there are so many great players that are out there on the tour.
On a given day anybody can beat anybody, to be honest, because it became so competitive and players became more professional physically.¬† I mean, there is not much difference, really, from the top players than maybe some other guys lower‑ranked.
But I guess it's just that mental ability to understand, cope with pressure in the moments, in the right moments, play the right shots, and that's something that separates I guess the top players.

Q.  How did you upgrade your serve?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Well, it's work, work, work, really, and trying to analyze it with a team of experts, of course, and my coach in the first place and trying to get deeply into that part of my game and try to see what is the most efficient way to improve that shot so it can give me the advantage, you know.
Getting the free points in today's tennis on the serve makes a big difference, you know, especially in my game, because I have a good return and I have good solid groundstrokes.  So, you know, having that, you know, confidence in my serve and getting one, two free points in the game, it's a big advantage.

Q.¬† There has been a lot of coverage in the media about your gluten‑free diet.¬† I live in Belgrade, and all I eat there is pizza and meat.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  You live in Belgrade?

Q.  Yes, I do.  I work for a Serbian paper, actually.  I'm very brown so I kind of stand out.  But anyway, I'm always like meat, pizza, pizza, meat.  Where do you eat when you're back home?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:¬† I eat mostly at home.¬† My mom cooks special food.¬† So it's hard, because as you say, in our country there is a certain kind of mentality towards the food that is‑‑ it's not very encouraging for gluten‑free diet.

Q.  It's delicious.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  It is.  But delicious doesn't mean it's very good for you.  So over the years I developed this resistance towards the delicious food.
But it doesn't mean that, you know, that gluten‑free products are not tasty.¬† I love them.¬† For me it's absolutely normal now to have that food, and back home I love mom's kitchen.¬† That's the most time spent eating there.

Q.  Your next opponent is actually the last player to beat you.  Does that have any bearing coming into a match like this a few months later?  Talk about the matchup a little bit with Sam.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  It's been a long time.  It's been a few months and I played a few tournaments since then.  So, you know, I don't think it's going to affect me negatively in a psychological way.
I won four, five times against him.  Yes, he has won the last encounter indoors.  Different circumstances and conditions.  So we'll see, you know.
I mean, we'll play in front of his crowd and he has a big serve and big game and he can come up with the goods when needed.  He loves to play also on a big stage.  We'll see, you know.
I don't know if we're going to play day or night match, and that's going to also make a little difference.
During the night it's a bit slower, so we'll see how that goes.  I will need to definitely start better than I have done today, and try to step into the court a little bit more.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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