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August 13, 2013

Novak Djokovic


THE MODERATOR:  Questions for Novak.

Q.  You and Andy Murray go back a long way.  I was just wondering what it's like for you to be a part of what's becoming a potentially historic rivalry with him.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Well, hopefully that rivalry can develop over the years, but it's still not the biggest rivalry we have in sports.  It's definitely, out of all the active players, Federer and Nadal.
But Andy and myself, we played a lot of great matches, especially in the last two, three years.  Some big ones he won; some big ones I won.  So it's always unpredictable who's going to come out on top whenever we play.
It's a huge challenge for both of us, so hopefully that can develop over the years and we can play many more big ones.

Q.  Throughout your career, including the juniors, who's the player that you enjoy playing the most and why?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  It's really hard to say who I really enjoy playing against.  I played many, many different players from different generations.  I played Andy also more than a few times.
On the under‑12, under‑16, uner‑18, we played against each other.  We grew up together basically playing on those junior circuit tournaments.
Yeah, I enjoy the competition really.  I enjoy always coming out on the court.  Since the very early stages of my career, I have been taught to always try to give my maximum of all the abilities that I have regardless of who I play against.
That's something that's kind of like a rule to me, that I have to give my best.

Q.  Rafa talked earlier about how he feels he's never really figured out what's the best schedule, partly because of his injury, but in general because of the way tennis season is.  Do you feel you've figured out a schedule and how things need to be?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Well, every year brings something different, so it's really hard to compare years.  It's one of the most demanding sports we have, and you have to travel.  It's a lot of stress to the body, changing the conditions, changing the surfaces, the time zones, the countries, the environments, and all these things can effect.
But in the end of the day, it is the same schedule for everybody.  You have to adjust to it.  So I can't really say if there is any perfect schedule, but my goal is ‑ as it was in the last few years ‑ always to kind of concentrate, to set up my best form for Grand Slams and Masters events, to be in top of my shape for those ones, and then, of course, play in other smaller tournaments like Davis Cup and so forth.
Like it was last year, it's an Olympic year, so sometimes it interferes with your scheduling.  But it's really important to organize well your time, because preparations and recoveries are equally important for maximum performance.

Q.  Novak, you kind of owned Nadal for a while in 2011, along with everyone else, but do you feel like he's changed anything tactically against you in the last few months?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  He became more aggressive.  That's where I felt it.  Especially on the return in Montreal he was coming closer to the line and he was picking up the ball quite fast.
So that was different probably comparing to our last matches on hard court.  But it was still a close one.  It was quite fast conditions in Montreal, so there were not many long rallies and everything was happening quite quickly.
Yeah, it was a great match to be part of and very few points decided a winner.

Q.  You didn't look too happy about the ball that hit.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Well, at that point you get frustrated first because you got hit, and second because you missed a huge opportunity.  It was a huge point for me to have a break ball on the third set, and I got probably most frustrated because of that, because of the bad drop shot that I played.

Q.  You won eight of the Masters 1000s, except this one.  You've been a finalist four times.  What would it mean to win this one and be the only player ever to have won all the Masters 1000s?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  The fact that I have an opportunity to make history in the sport that I'm playing that I love is incredible.  So this is just another extra motivation for me to try to do the best that I can and reach the, hopefully, final stages of this event.
Again, it's a long week and it's different conditions from what we played last week.  Working hard on the practice courts to get ready.  Hopefully, I can get the best out of this tournament.

Q.  Novak, Rafa said that the difference between now and 2011 perhaps is just like one or two points, and were in a situation where he should have won the match, you know, he could have won the match in 2011.  What do you think about it?  Do you think the difference comes from just one or two points in the last few matches?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Looking at the match that we had a few days ago, I think it was decided by just a few points.  There was no difference in the matches we had, the previous matches we had ‑ most of them ‑ in the last few years.
2011 I was winning most of them; now he's winning.  It's a course of life, you know.  You can't always be winning the matches.  You can't always be the one that is going to prevail in the important moments.
It's mental.  It's a matter of confidence also.  Sometimes you manage to go for the shot that usually you wouldn't and sometimes it works; sometimes it doesn't for you.
I guess that makes a difference.

Q.  For a long time, the full‑time serve and volleyer has begun to disappear.  Do you have any theories on that and why at the top we don't have anybody playing, like go back to the Edbergs and Rafters.  What's going on there?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  There are a few reasons.  First because the balls in the majority of the tournaments, they're played on hard courts, even grass courts are slower, the surfaces are slower.  Also, the technology has advanced a lot, so it allows the players to be able to return the ball much better.  It allows them to have more control from the baseline.
And also, the physical aspect of the tennis players, just comparing to that time, it's totally different.  Now everybody's basically getting every ball back.  Some defense from the players that you see nowadays, it's incredible.
So it's always right to have the variety in your game, to come to the net.  But to have the classic serve and volley players, you don't see many of them.  You see maybe a few of them, and we're talking about probably Isner and Raonic are the guys who are serving huge serves.  That allows them to come to the net and finish up earlier.

Q.  Nobody tried to turn you into a serve and volleyer, did they?  I'm just wondering if any coaches tried to convince you to play serve and volley, and would you have done it if they had?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Well, when I was growing up, already at that time there were a few of the return and baseline players kind of dominating the game, like Agassi, Kuerten.  Also, there was Pete Sampras and Becker, these guys who were still serving and volleying.
So you could feel maybe Agassi was one of the first players that kind of revolutionized the game in a way.  He started returning extremely well to everybody who was coming to the net and making some big passing shots.
So the game is changing, and it's all part of it.

Q.  Just a moment ago, you talked about possibly winning all the Masters.  We have a lot of statistics in other sports that are like milestones.  I'm wondering if you feel like we need more milestones in the sport of tennis, things to mark success over a career.  500 match wins, whatever it might be.  Do you think we're kind of lacking that in this sport?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  I think our sport is great and is able to offer different milestones and records, and it's just a matter of us bringing that up or not.  I've been part of some great matches, like that almost six‑hour match with Nadal that went to the history.
But I don't know in what you are referring to.  Probably maybe we are not bringing that up as official as it's supposed to be, or...

Q.  Yeah.  Well, Grand Slam titles seem to be the main marker of success.  But in sports like baseball, it's 3,000 hits or pitching a no‑hitter.  It doesn't seem like those marks are as celebrated in tennis as maybe some other sports.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  It's different.  I think they're there.  The statistics are there.  It's just a matter of bringing that up publicly and just making sure it's official or not.
In tennis, I think most of those maybe minor achievements ‑ somebody would call that minor from our world, the way it is ‑ they're kept behind the door.
Maybe in order to promote the sport better, that can be an interesting idea.  Good that you brought it up.  You can talk to him.  I'll support your idea.

Q.  Novak, could you talk a little bit about your Davis Cup accomplishments with Serbia this year.  Are you going to be planning to play in the semis and what your schedule might be like in years going forward with Serbia.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  It's always, for me, a great privilege to play Davis Cup for my country because it's a feeling like no other really.  Playing for the team, playing for the country is something very different from what I experience on a regular basis.
So I will be available for Serbian Davis Cup team if everything is right, like it is in this moment.  Semifinals, we haven't played at home for a few years.  So people are missing tennis, and it's going to be a great atmosphere, semifinals, and hopefully we can push it to another final and fight for a title.
Scheduling‑wise, we all know the Davis Cup is at a time which is very difficult, especially for top players.  If you're reaching the final stages, for example, of the US Open, it's basically in the same week.  You have to change the‑‑ you have to travel to the other side of the planet and then play indoor clay, where US Open you're playing outdoor hard court.
Plus I have a charity event for my foundation on the 10th of September, the day after the US Open.  So it's going to be a nice ride for me back home, but it's not the first time I'm doing that.
So I really like the part where I'm just part of the team.  Just being there with them and sharing these great moments on the court is something special.

Q.  How's the book going?  What's been the response to that?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Well, we are publishing it now.  We're announcing it now in a week's time in New York.  I actually think I signed the first sample of the book to one of the fans in Canada, and I was very happy to see that.
Most of the response and the feedback that I have from people are positive.  The general idea was to share my own experience and how diet and food regime has affected my life and my career since that moment.  It was now three years since I started respecting that diet.
Of course just want to make sure that it's not the best for everybody.  That's the main point.  It's just sharing my own experience and views, and hopefully people can find something in there that can help them also with their life.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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