Davis Cup champion Novak Djokovic gave an extended interview yesterday while at the Hopman Cup. Djokovic sat down with Fred Stolle and a host to dish about his game and the upcoming season.
Among the highlights, Djokovic talks about Perth, his Davis Cup win last month, the pressures, and playing in the era of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, who Djokovic says are so much mentally stronger than the rest of the field.
Djokovic adds he’s “learning” how to handle the heightened expectations that comes with success.
The last time Djokovic played Perth he went on to win the Australian Open in 2008!
Djokovic is playing with his fellow Serb Ana Ivanovic at the Hopman Cup exhibition. The top-seeded Serbs beat Khazakstan in their opening match earlier today.
Also, here’s a bonus press conference Novak did at the Hopman Cup after his first win:
Q: Novak Djokovic has been good enough to join us after that pretty comprehensive performance. They’re still chanting for you up in the stands Novak. Obviously he took it up to you in the first set didn’t he?
A: Yeah you know. I don’t want to find any excuses, but we got here just two days ago just before New Year’s Eve, and it’s really hard to get used to the time change and conditions here. We were practising for a couple of weeks outdoors and then we came indoors. I’m just happy to not embarrass Ana and to bring her one point, because she is playing really great.
Q: I think she was a bit worried about the mixed doubles.
A: I was just trying because I want to make her happy. After the first match she came and suddenly I started playing much better.
Q: They’re still chanting.
A: Great fans.
Q: Speaking of Ana – you two have a great relationship don’t you? You have a lot of fun together.
Yes we have known each other since we were five. Basically I think my Uncle and her Father went to school together and that’s how we got to know each other. We played all the junior events that you can imagine – under 10’s, 12’s, and 14’s, local, national and international. We grew up together. We just have a great relationship together for a long time. She is the nicest girl that I know in tennis, and definitely for me, I think the best in the world.
Q: Now just looking at that match – how did you think you played? As the match went on, you played better and better. Just looking at some of your forehands during the match, were you happy with the way you were striking the ball?
A: Well in the first set I was too defensive and I was still trying to find the rhythm. He was stepping in and he definitely was a better player for most of the first sets. I was serving a lot of double faults, I wasn’t playing well. Then I found my pace and I was happy the way I finished it off.
Q: You talked about how you just arrived here, but also we’re interested in how you pulled up after the Davis Cup –both physically and emotionally in terms of getting ready.
A: It’s the biggest success I’ve had on the tennis court in my career, next to winning the Australian Open. In my individual career, Australian Open, but in general it’s the Davis Cup where you get to represent your nation. This competition is very close to Davis Cup – to play for your nation first and then for yourself.
Q: What about physically though, to get back on the court? Have you picked up a racquet since?
Q: Yeah, yeah I did. It was the shortest off season I ever had – not even two weeks, so that’s the way it is. Many players in the past have had the same situation. Nadal had it last year, two years ago. I’ve got to get used to it and now actually this week is a very hard week for me. I have to build up my physical strength and have to work hard on the practices. I don’t know if I can pull up the best possible performance, but I’ll try.
A: The crowd was getting involved as we said. You were out there being the blinds-man at one stage; you were getting pretty pumped out there.
I was having a lot of fun. You don’t get many events throughout the year where you can really have fun and enjoy tennis. Obviously everybody is different, but I felt this is the event where I could just bring some laughs and a couple of jokes here and there during the match. Its good entertainment, hopefully people like it.
Q: Lleyton was doing some commentary in the first set. He was watching some of your serves closely earlier on.
A: I was playing terrible so he’s probably thinking ‘this is going to be an easy match for me’.
Q: They were talking about your volleying at one stage and how it’s getting, in some ways with the changes to the court and the ball and the strings, that there are not many great volleyers out there. How do you see volleying for yourself?
A: Well the game is based on the baseline, like Lleyton’s. I’m working really hard to improve my volley game and to be more aggressive to use the opportunities that have been getting to me. I think I have a quite powerful baseline, but many times I don’t use a chance, I don’t get the volley and I make my life much tougher physically. I think it’s a process – it takes time to mentally overcome that feeling and really start putting some variety in. I think I’m playing on the net more than I did in the last couple of years, but I still need to work on that.
Q: Well congratulations. You entertained the crowd again, and we’ll see you there in the mixed doubles.
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