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August 24, 2013

Novak Djokovic


THE MODERATOR:  Questions, please.

Q.  Special night last night?  Would you like to talk about it?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Yes.  It was very special night for me personally, for everybody who was present at that evening, and also for the whole tennis world.
Especially for Brad Drewett, who we unfortunately lost earlier this year.  He was very passionate about the sport, and he brought a lot to tennis.  As an ATP president he initiated the idea of Heritage Program, and it was a brilliant idea.  I think he would be very happy to see that almost all No. 1s of the world since 1973 were there.
It was, for me it was a spectacular experience just being, you know, there sharing the same stage with all these legends that, you know, have made a history of our sport.
But also before them.  You know, most of them they were mentioning, you know, Santana, Stan Smith, everybody who is a champion and winning Grand Slams before ATP was formed as an organization.
So we have to give credit to them, because it's a revolution, you know, generation after generation.  And just being able to be surrounded with this elite of great guys and incredible champions, not just of tennis, but of sport in general, it was a fantastic and unforgettable experience for me.  I will cherish it and remember it forever.
Hopefully it can become a tradition in some sort, because it would make us happy.  Would make Brad happy, for sure, and all the tennis world.  Because that's what we are missing, you know.
We are missing more of these historic moments, you know, to really cherish and really remember, you know, something that has been achieved, because this sport is very global around the world.
Many people or many kids are watching, and they want to see that.

Q.  What's the mindset for you coming to the US Open after maybe the disappointment Montreal, Cincinnati?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  I thought I played quite decent, you know, in these two weeks.  Just that both matches that I lost were 7‑6 and 7‑5 in the third set, and in important moments I wasn't finding that maybe extra strength to be calm and to play the right shots.
That's what happens, you know.  You go through these periods.  But my confidence is still there.  This is a Grand Slam, so it is different from any other event.  I love playing Grand Slams.
I had a very good record in US Open in last five, six years that I have been coming back here, so I really look forward to it.  Anyway, this says US Open 2012 here.  You got to change it.  (Laughter).
THE MODERATOR:  We will fix that.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Okay.  (Smiling.)  So I really look forward to it, because I like the center court, I like the atmosphere, I like the court, the spirit of the court ‑  it's suitable to my style of the game ‑ and the whole buzz that you feel around the US Open and around these courts.
It's something that makes me very excited and, you know, motivated to play my best.  I have been preparing very hard.  I had these extra few days after I lost quarterfinals in Cincinnati to get ready and give my all during these few weeks.

Q.  Just getting back to last night, I was talking with Stefan Edberg afterward, and he said he had never seen you in person before.  It was very nice.  Who did you enjoy meeting that you hadn't met before?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Him and Marcelo Rios.  All the other guys I have met.  Some briefly, some, you know, more times.
But yesterday it was one of these unique opportunities for all of us to get together and share the experiences, the thoughts.  Just, you know, to talk and just to be alongside your fellow colleagues, you know, tennis players that know how you feel.
That's the best thing, is that they have been through all of this.  It was just a blessing to be with them.

Q.  You talked before about the past and the present.  What about the future?  I mean, you did a speech at the United Nations.  What do you think you can do, something like yourself, which takes so many responsibilities as usual?  Someone like you, what you can do for peace and war?  What you can do for younger generation?  For your country?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Well, it's a good question, but it's a very general question, also.  First of all, I feel that I'm in my prime in my tennis career, and I really want to keep on playing tennis at this level hopefully for years to come, as long as I have the desire, as long as my body holds on, as long as, you know, there is this love, flame of love for this sport inside of me.
I'm not even close to thinking of, you know, retiring or getting away from tennis.  I will be always in tennis in some ways, you know.  But I'm still going to be active player.
The speech at UN yesterday was also something quite incredible for me.  I mean, it was unbelievable day, you know.  In the morning, UN, and in the evening, the Heritage Program.
I was blown away by these wonderful opportunities that I got personally to speak at the UN in the name of the global family of athletes around the world for proclamation of International Day of Sport, for development and peace, which will be on 6th of April.
It's something that is just out of ordinary for me.  I never have done it.  I never have seen the UN offices and facilities, and I know that many big world decisions are made at that place.
So I had a feeling all of us who came, my friends, my family, you know, that we were part of something really big.  So it was a fantastic occasion.
Reflecting on your question, what I personally can do?  I can't do anything alone, you know.  There is always people behind me, you know.  On the tennis court it's the same, right?  It's individual sport, but it's a team sport in a way, because there is so much support from the people around me in order for me to perform my best and to be on such a high level.
But on the other hand, there is a foundation that exists in 2007.  That was run by my family; my girlfriend is involved; and all the people, all the friends around the world that we meet and a lot of experts who are trying to get this foundation, you know, on the big doors, because through the foundation, through the charity work, I see myself doing a lot for the world, and for kids especially.
I love these kind of days, kids' days, that we have as a tradition here in US Open.  And First Lady came today.  It shows how important it is really for the United States, but for the whole world of tennis and sport, you know.
Sport sends a great message out there to the world.  You're fit, you're healthy, you're leading a healthy lifestyle that can, you know, enable you to travel around the world.  That's why tennis is such a fantastic sport and everybody loves it.
I'm talking so much now.  I can't even stop (Laughter).
You asked me only question, so I hope you have enough answers.  I hope you recorded this, because I'm not going to repeat this.

Q.  They are recording it.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Sorry.  You'll have to stretch your fingers after that.

Q.  I want to ask you about a couple of your top rivals, Nadal and Federer.  Nadal has had sort of an up and down year and a halfwith highs like the French Open and lows like Wimbledon.  Seems as though he's maybe back on the upswing.  I wanted to get your impression of how he's playing on hard courts the last couple tournaments coming in here, and then about Federer not used to seeing the No. 7 by his name.  I just wanted to see what your impression was of him and where he is in his career at this point, seeing him seeded No. 7 at a Grand Slam.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Well, first of all, Nadal is definitely back, and he's playing maybe the best tennis that he ever has played on hard court really.  He hasn't lost a match here.  He won three Masters events.  He won it in great style.  He was very aggressive, and he seems like he changed a little bit the game.
He stepped in a little bit more.  He knows that now he has to be a bit more aggressive than he usually is because of, I guess, his knees and everything and because hard court is not clay.  It's not his favorite surface; it's faster.
I'm sure he worked on that, and you could see that all the work he put in are getting results.  He's definitely so far the best player this year.  There is no question about it.  The results are showing everything.
And Federer, on the other hand, is.  Yeah, having results‑wise probably the worst year he had in probably last 10 years.
Look, you know, I'm sure he knows what he's doing.  He's probably focusing on the Grand Slams, and that's where he wants to perform his best.
And, yes, it is unusual to see that he's No. 7 of the world, you know, after being so dominant and so consistent every year in last 10 years, always being 1, 2 in the world.
But, you know, there are so many young guys now coming up also, you know, after the generation of Nadal, myself, Murray, Del Potro, now you have Dimitrov, you have Janowicz, Raonic.  So this is a new wave of players, and this is kind of a life cycle and the way it goes.
You can't always expect somebody to be at the highest level.  You know, it's normal to go up and down.  That's why this sport is so, in the end, very demanding, you know, physically, mentally, emotionally.  In any way you turn it around, the sport is actually asking from a tennis player everything, you know, all the commitment possible from every aspect.
That's why we love it, you know.  It gives us a lot, but, you know, in return you have to work very hard in order to be the best in the world.

Q.  You talked about the great players who were there last night.  Some of them were serve and volley players.  Do you see the serve and volley game ever coming back?  You talk about the next generation.  Is it ever coming back into the men's game?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  That's a good question.  I don't know what is the right answer.  I cannot predict anything, because the way it looks now I don't think so.  But it all depends again on I think not the players themself but the surfaces, balls.
So right now we have majority of the surfaces that are slower and more suitable to baseliners.  You know, the higher bounce, and we used to have faster surface.
I mean, back in the day all the Grand Slams were played on grass, and then hard courts, fast hard courts, and so forth, and low bounce, faster balls, so it was just more adjustable to the serve and volley style of play.
Now it's more baseline because there are so many great returners out there.  Of course technology also helps you control the ball better and still keep the same strength and power in the shots.
But in the end of the day, it's important to have all the varieties of styles in your game as possible, you know.  Coming into the net and defending well and having this transition from being defensive to being offensive, I think that's a key for top level in tennis, in my opinion.

Q.  You made the final last three years here.  I'm just wondering what your clearest memories were for each of those years when you look back, especially I guess the last two?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Yes, well, first Grand Slam final I had was in '2007 in NewYork here, Federer.  I played a great final, three tough sets.  You know, he helped me a lot to really, you know, grow in confidence and to understand myself better and to really believe that I can do well in Grand Slams on a consistent basis, not just one Grand Slam.
Then I won Australian Open the year after.  So that's how it really started here.  Since then I played finals in '10, '11, '12.  Of course the highlight would be the title from 2011.  That's by far my best season in a career.
Last year was also, you know, a very interesting match, a very close match from two sets down coming back and playing fifth against Murray.
2010 against Rafa was also close one.
So, I mean, at this level really it's always expected in a way, you know, when I play Rafa, Roger, Andy, these guys are top four or top 10.  It's very few points that really decide a winner.
You can't really say who is the clear favorite, because it always goes down the wire who is going to win it.  That's the beauty of the sport.  That's the beauty of the rivalries that we have at the present moment.

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