Novak Djokovic: “I Feel That I’m At The Peak Of My Career”
Novak Djokovic spoke to the Australian Open media today in Melbourne.
Q. In London you said it’s possible to be better than 2011. That means you are thinking about Grand Slam?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I think, you know, everything is possible. Obviously 2011 has been the best year so far in my career. It’s going to be very difficult to repeat what I have done.
But, look, I’ve done it once. Why not twice? Why not staying optimistic and positive about the whole season? It’s a start. Obviously I’m not thinking too far away from Australia. My focus is directed to this tournament. I want to start off the year well, as everybody else obviously.
I had I think a lot of time to recover, a lot of time to prepare. Skipped the first week of the season in order to get ready for Melbourne.
Q. Federer just said that the courts are slow. Do you feel that way?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: They are slow. It’s quite similar from the last year. I can’t really say if there is any particular difference. But I think it’s more or less the same like last year. We know that courts here can be quite slow, especially at the night sessions, nonsunny conditions.
You know, the surface is a little bit rough, so the balls get bigger and fluffier, which puts a lot of weight and pressure on the shoulder. It’s very kind of difficult to produce any speed out of it. Look, it’s the same for everybody.
I personally like the conditions here and I’ve been playing well the last couple years.
Q. When you were sitting here 12 months ago, did you have any sense of what an incredible run you were about to go on?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I wouldn’t have thought that I would go the same way I’ve done in 2011. I guess I had the right approach and I had a strong wind in my back from the Davis Cup title in 2010.
I guess last couple years playing on the top level in the men’s tennis gave me a lot of necessary confidence and experience, learning what to do on the court, off the court. I just think I matured in general. When I step on the court right now, when I prepare for the major events, it’s a different feeling from what I had in the past years. I just have more selfbelief when I’m out there.
Q. When you sit here today 12 months on, is there any part of you that thinks, How on earth am I going to do that again?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Not too much, to be honest. A lot of different thoughts go through the head obviously. But it’s a long year. I have a great team of people around me. We are all trying to keep the same approach, very simple approach, to the tennis, to the preparation for the major events, for the new season, as we did in the past couple of years.
Q. In the offseason, how much time did you take away from tennis and what kind of stuff did you do?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Almost three weeks. I had some commitments after I finished in London for a week or so, then I had two weeks of the real rest, without racquet, without any physical involvement.
It came at the right time really. I needed it more than anything at that stage. I had time to reflect on what I have achieved in 2011. I was very proud obviously of the whole success. But I was also aware of the fact that I don’t have that much time to enjoy that success, that I have to rest and then continue on with the preparation for new season.
Q. Given what you did, where you took your body to last year, two weeks doesn’t seem like very long to kick back a little bit.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: It is what it is. It’s the same for all of the top players, especially the ones who are playing at the World Tour Finals in London and the Davis Cup as well. Obviously the schedule is like that. You have to adjust to it and you have to take the best out of it.
To be honest, I even felt that I had quite a lot of time in the offseason comparing to the last two years. But, you know, in 2012, for the first time after a long time we’re going to have two weeks shorter season, which is going to give us more time to I guess rest and prepare better.
Q. Your first Christmas as the world No. 1. What does the world No. 1 buy himself for Christmas?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I haven’t bought anything. My coach told me to practice on the Christmas Day, so you can imagine how that looked (laughter).
Q. What have you been working specifically on in your game during your offseason?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, going back to the short or long offseason, we don’t have that much time to really explore, work on too much in some parts of the game. In two or three weeks’ time that you have before the new season starts, you always try to specifically work on some shots, try to improve them by a percentage that is possible in that time.
I don’t think that in general my game should be changed or that I should take any major changes in it. I just think that, you know, I have to keep that consistency of performing well, work on some things, maybe to get more often to the net, work on my serve a little bit more, that variety of the serve. That’s it, more or less.
Q. What have you done to make sure that the back and shoulder doesn’t come back this year?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Rest. You know, that’s something I haven’t had in 2011. Going to Belgrade to play semifinals of Davis Cup after US Open was a very difficult decision that I’ve had. You know, I made my injury even worse.
But, you know, there is no reason for me to go back in time. I think I’ve learned another lesson. I need to have just the right thinking towards rest as much as I have towards the work.
I have a great team of people around me who are doing their job really well. My physiotherapist and everybody is taking care of it. For right now I don’t feel any struggles and any pain.
Q. Having achieved so much in 2011, is it difficult to work out what to achieve in 2012 in a way?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: You know, it all depends from what perspective you’re looking at it. You can always see the negatives and positives. I’m always trying to take the positive side and say, Okay, I’ve done it once, I can do it twice.
I feel that I’m at the peak of my career. I feel that physically, mentally, gamewise, I’m right up there. I can perform equally well on any surface, as I have proven in 2011. That’s my focus. That’s something that I’m thinking of. Just taking it slowly, step by step.
Q. You’re one of Serbia’s best chances to get a gold medal at the Olympics in 2012. You won bronze in Beijing. How do the Olympics play into your priorities this year?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: It’s right up there. It’s one of the biggest priorities this year, Olympic Games. I had that privilege and honor to represent my country in 2008 Beijing Olympics. It was a remarkable experience, like no other. Tennis is just one of so many sports that is present in the Olympic Games, which is the most prestigious, the most valuable, the most wellknown sporting event in the history of sport. That says enough.
I’m very happy to be representing my country again and going back to the Wimbledon grass where I played grass in 2011, achieved one of my biggest goals. So I hope that I can play well, perform well and bring a medal to Serbia.
Q. Have you thought far enough ahead to if you would play just singles or doubles as well?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: At this point I’m planning to play doubles as well.
Q. Men’s or mixed?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Men’s.
Q. Do you feel some of that unique personality of the Olympics that you experienced in Beijing might not be there because it will be a couple of weeks after Wimbledon and you’ve been to Wimbledon?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, the schedule is going to be quite tough on us because of the Olympics and everything. It’s going to be very busy and very compressed.
But look, you know, I think it’s really important, especially from the experience that I had in 2011, especially it’s really important to organize your schedule very well.
We have a couple weeks, I think three weeks, from the last days of Wimbledon to the start of the Olympic Games. So the rest will be shorter and then we’ll be back in London. We’ll try to enjoy it and perform as best as we can.
Q. At the end of last year, obviously the best player was Federer. Is it a concern for you that he was the best at that time?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Of 2011?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, he finished off the season best from all the other players. He had over 15 wins in a row. He definitely loves playing indoors. He loves playing in the London event.
But, you know, it’s a whole new year. It’s a whole new season. We’re starting to play outdoors. We’ll see if everybody can keep up.
Q. Andy Murray said before the big change he noticed in you was the boost in confidence. How did you go about getting that? Was there a particular moment where it clicked for you, you felt like you were the world’s best player?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I’ve had an incredible run that lasted for almost five, six months to French Open. It’s really hard to pick up any of the great achievements and great tournaments that I have won, what is the best one.
But definitely every single one of them gave me a lot of confidence. I was building that confidence with every trophy that I have won. Like everything in life, in tennis as well, you need to have a high confidence level. When you’re playing on it, it feels like nothing can stop you.
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