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October 12, 2013

Novak Djokovic


6‑2, 7‑5

THE MODERATOR:  Questions, please.

Q.  It seemed like you won pretty comfortably in the end without playing your best tennis.  Are you confident you can raise your game tomorrow against Rafa or Del Potro?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  I think I raised my game today comparing to last night's match.  Of course, I would wish to get even a better performance tomorrow for the most important match this week.  But we'll see.
You know, obviously I still don't know who am I playing against.  But accordingly I will adjust tactically and I can be ready to perform my best.

Q.  The success you've had in China this year, last year, Beijing, winning four times, what is it about these tournaments here?  Is it the time of year you like playing?  Is it the courts?  A combination of things?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  A combination of things, I guess.  I just feel nice being here in China.  There's some good, positive energy around these tournaments.  They're organized on such a high level, both Beijing and Shanghai.  There's a lot of supporters, a lot of young people who come out every day with Serbian flags that I see them.  They are not just for myself, but supporting Nadal and all the other players.  Really passionate.
I think that's a part of this good atmosphere that we get to feel when we come here.  But also the courts.  The time of the year for some reason is just working for me very well in the previous five years.  I've always been coming out in China and making some really, really good results, winning trophies.
For me, that's very encouraging.  It's very positive because most of the people would think after the fourth Grand Slam of the year is over, that somehow the season is finished in the minds of maybe people who are not following consistently the tennis season.
For me it's definitely not over.  Of course, these two tournaments are one of my favorites and why I'm more successful.

Q.  I know your training partner of this week is a Chinese player.

Q.  Talk about him, technique, potential.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  He's also a great support to me in the stands.  He's coming out.  I appreciate that very much.  He's a 19‑year‑old tennis player from China.  He's a very, very nice boy.  We get along really well.  We hit every day.  We spend some time with each other, talking a little bit about tennis and different things.
I can say we've become friends already.  I'll definitely follow his career and hope that he can play main draw here next year.

Q.  Do you have any advice for him?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  We talk about it every day.  We talk about different things.  He talks with my coach, with Marian.  Also Marian tries to help him out.  As I said, you can see that he's very honest, very modest, very normal boy that really has big desire and willpower to succeed.
We'll see.  Obviously it's many things that he needs to work on in order to get himself to the high level.  But this experience of practicing with me and with the other players for most of the week, watching basically courtside top‑class tennis is a very valuable experience.

Q.  When players are coming up the ladder, when you first show up, we size everyone up and say, That's a potential Grand Slam champion.  We had you on that list, Rafa.  We had Jo on that list, Richard Gasquet, even Gaël Monfils.  Any thoughts why you and Rafa made it, and those guys haven't quite realized the potential we kind of envisioned?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Well, I think it just says how difficult it is to make this transition from junior to the pro tour.  Even though being the best junior in the world, junior Grand Slam winner, gives you some kind of encouragement for a professional career, but it also gives a lot of people an indication of what you can do and your talent.
But it's still not enough.  It's becoming more and more challenging for all of young players to break through to the top 100 because of the points system, but also because of the competitiveness of today's professional tennis.

Q.  Does it surprise you at all those three, all Frenchmen, haven't done it?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Well, Jo was very close a few times.  Gaël also a few times.  He played, as Richard, semis of the Grand Slams, but never reached the finals.  You can see the potential in them.
But, as I said, it's a very big task.  To win a Grand Slam is the pinnacle of this sport, besides being No.1 of the world.  Not many players are able to do that.
Many years, if you kind of keep on trying, you start doubting yourself if you really can do it.  All the people around you keep on telling you you can.  In my case, in my personal experience, when I won in 2008 the first Grand Slam, two years after that I wasn't managing to win the title.  People started doubting my abilities for eventually another Grand Slam title.  I did have also my own dilemmas.
In the end I figured out it's a matter of obviously a lot of things together, but mostly self‑belief because it's a mental game and you need to be mentally tough and be ready to commit and sacrifice many things in life to achieve that.

Q.  Speaking of the mental game, much is made of being the hunter or the hunted.  For so long you were the hunted.  This is the first week in a long time being the hunter.  Is there a change at all in you?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  To be honest, not a significant change in my approach to the tournaments.  I knew that the rankings are going to change, considering the fact what Nadal has achieved this year.  It was a matter of a moment or a week or whatever when he's going to take No.1 because he's had by far best results this year.
I knew that, but I still keep on believing in myself and keep on working hard, being very much motivated to win every tournament that I play on.  It hasn't changed really.  I'm still inspired to play my best tennis.  That's how it's going to stay.

Q.  Back to the first time you came to Shanghai, what kind of image of the tennis market did you have?  Did you expect one day you'd have a huge tennis market here with fans?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Well, I've been mentioning before that tennis in China has been growing over the course of the last few years that I've been coming back here, both in Beijing and Shanghai.  Shanghai, population‑wise, is the biggest city in the world.  Almost 30 million.  It's a huge market.  There's a huge potential for anything really in life, especially tennis that is a very global sport.
Chinese traditional sports include sports with racquets, right?  Ping‑pong, badminton.  I think that's why they felt maybe lately a connection with our sport.  It's a racquet, it's individual.  Hopefully it can pick up even more.  Women's Chinese tennis is doing quite well with Li Na and the other girls.  Men's tennis, a bit slower.
But it's a process, you know.  I think we will see in the future, if there are these two big tournaments being organized regularly every year, and of course if there is a system, an organization, a belief, that we can see men's players in the future.

Q.  The second set, seventh game, two points drew a bit of a reaction from you.  How important was it to keep your cool after that and close out the match?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  When you're on the tennis court, it feels like an arena.  You're fighting.  It's emotional.  It's intense.  It's normal.  It's not the first nor the last time.
I just felt that I was right about the second call.  But it's okay.  I knew that I couldn't change the decision, so I just needed to regroup, stay calm.
It did affect me a little bit in the next game.  But I managed to stay composed when I needed to.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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