Novak Djokovic: “I Feel That I’m At The Peak Of My Career”
by Staff | January 14th, 2012, 2:40 am
  • 47 Comments

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?

Q. Yes.

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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47 Comments for Novak Djokovic: “I Feel That I’m At The Peak Of My Career”

dari Says:

“We’ll see if everybody can keep up”
Nice one, novak.
Getting a bit of that no. 1 brash tone…


dari Says:

Better keep up with the 24-25 year olds, fed!


Dory Says:

Wow such a great mature interview. No.1e’s one of the best players to represent tennis today. Hopefully he wins. I will die of excitement if it’s a Roger-Djoker final.


jane Says:

Win or lose, I think Nole is a great guy and one who tends to learn from past experiences. I like what he had to say about balancing rest and work. His optimism is refreshing too. He has a mountain of points to defend, but more importantly I hope he realizes his goals, whatever those may be.


alison hodge Says:

yeah agree with jane,what an amazing year for nole in 2011,although i doubt he will have a repeat of it in 2012,thats not to say that he wont have another great year this year,and about time someone broke up the fedal duopoly,hopefully murray will also make some noise this year,i think he also deserves to win a slam.


rogerafa Says:

Very good interview. I liked the candor. He is oozing confidence. He is going to be hard to beat. Good luck to the chasing pack!


Ajet Says:

”Dory Says:
I will die of excitement if it’s a Roger-Djoker final.”

LOL! :P

If its Rafa facing him in the final, my shout for Nole would be: WIN WIN!!!
but in case its Roger: LOSE LOSE!!! ;)


Michael Says:

I wonder what his recipe will be for this year. More EGG, more fake MTO’S, more fake INJURIES????? Maybe he has something new up his sleeve!! Boring attention seeker!!


alison hodge Says:

i dont know if murray will beat nole,or vice versa,or if roger will beat rafa or vice versa,or even if they will get that far to play each other,the ao has not even started yet,and there could be alot of surprises for all we know,the only thing we all know for sure is that we know nothing.


mat4 Says:

@alison:

there is sometimes an aliso hodge posting. Is it you?


Wog boy Says:

Jane, very much agree. It is obvious he is learner and not afraid to change, that is what I call maturity, but I would like him still to keep part of that boy, with eyes wide open, ready to enjoy every aspect of life, not just tennis.
Mat4, I agree with you from the other thred, by the end of this year we are going to have Nole and Andy as #1 and #2 it wiil stay like that for another 3-4 years and then we will see :)


grendel Says:

Either there are two Michaels, or the one Michael who posts is schizophrenic.


Wog boy Says:

@Grendel:
I didn’t say that !


grendel Says:

Wog boy

I’m probably being thick, but I’m not quite sure what you mean.


jane Says:

LOL, grendel, I think there HAS to be two Michaels. :) One of them dislikes Nole with a passion (and I think? is a Rafa fan but not sure); the other one is a Fed fan, who seems to respect most top players, but who debates with “stamina,” to quote you.


Wog boy Says:

@Grendel:
You are not thick, that means when somebody else , in this case you, says something what you think but don’t have a guts to say :)


van orten Says:

another djoker vs fed final could become a real classic …


grendel Says:

“Look, it’s the same for everybody.” says Djokovic w.r.t. the slowness of the courts. Even so, it will suit some more than others. Of the top 20 or so, who is likely to benefit the most? I know a standard choice would be Nadal – but is that necessarily true? He obviously likes Miami, v.slow – but he liked US Open 2010, quite fast. Anyway, who else?

I thought this series of comments amusing:” 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.”

Ever such a gentle reminder that these days, Federer is something of an indoor specialist. And meanwhile, can everyone keep up? A nicely coded way of laying down the gauntlet….


Kimberly Says:

Poor quality football in this first playoff game.

I am sure there are two Michaels. If not I agree with grendel’s assessment.

See, I assume DJoker will dominate, although this is not what I want. I sold him short too many times last year, until he shows a sustained dip in form I assume he will win and win a lot.

Last year, after he won in Indian wells, I thought he was to tired to win in Miami. Yet he did. And outlasted rafa in the heat. Then his dominance continued on clay and grass, something totally unexpected. Then with no let down he picked it up from Montreal to the us open. So after selling him short about five times, this year unless he loses consistently, he is the favorite in every match on every surface in every condition.

Te good thing for him is I don’t think he will face that much pressure as I seem to be in the minority. Most people I am reading don’t think he has a prayer of repeating last years season.


Kimberly Says:

Btw, less than 24 hrs left to enter draws, men and women. And no, I did not pick Novak even though it’s the right pick.


jane Says:

I don’t think Nole will “repeat” last season because it was just too much with the streak and everything; however, I don’t think he’s going to fall flat on his face either, which seems to be what some writers are implying. Last season was surreal as a Nole fan; we weren’t used to that sort of Fedalesque winning.

And yet in hindsight, when I think about 2007-08, it was in the cards that eventually Nole would win a lot and probably reach number one, though doubts surfaced when his serve went AWOL. After all, he was the youngest player to have reached the semis or better at all grand slams and consecutively (FO 07, Wimb 07, USO 07 final, AO 08 win), so he made it clear he could play very well on every surface. Then in 08 he backed that up winning a hard court slam, a clay court masters, and reaching finals at Queens. The setbacks? He changed his racquet and he had on/off court issues with nerves/family, etc. He had maturing to do and needed to pull away from his family a little bit, which he did. It was a cumulative process for Nole, not the overnight transformation some make it out to be. The groundwork for his winning record on all surfaces last year was laid, and evident, back in 2007.


Wog boy Says:

Grendel, it must be Aussie English, I learned and heard that phrase here.


mat4 Says:

@jane:

The truth spoke through your words.

Glad you’re here.


jane Says:

Thanks mat4. Same thing back at you.

Kimberly – re: the bracket challenge, I thought we could submit multiple draws? I can’t figure out how though. Do I have to make up an entirely new name, password etc? Do you know? I did one but did it quickly. Am going to rush through a ladies now too, just for fun.


mat4 Says:

Just rewatching last year final.

First, despite what Greg Couch says, Andy couldn’t hurt Novak with changes of pace. In fact, he suffered from Novak’s slice on his forehand.

Then, there is that “middle” issue. Andy doesn’t do anything from the middle of the baseline, especially from the forehand side. I watched yesterday parts of the 2010 final, and Roger also played also on Andy’s forehand.

His forehand needs a lot of preparation, otherwise, he will hit it crosscourt or neutral. This inability to dictate from his forehand side doesn’t allow him to build points, and that’s the reason he relies so much on his exceptional defense.

Finally, Novak didn’t bagel him in the second set on purpose. It was so obvious.


grendel Says:

so is the feeling then that it doesn’t really matter? about being slow I mean. that they’re all pros, accustomed to different conditions, and happy to adapt as required? i find this a little unlikely.

Wog boy – the way you describe it, it must be a contraction. The unspoken part being – “…but I wish I had”. That’s sort of very modern idiomatic, quite an interesting (and young) way of speaking. Aussie, eh? Don’t remember that, but my guess is that it’s quite recent.


Wog boy Says:

Nieminen won Sydney in a final nobody expected.


tennisfan Says:

Djokovic can really make it to finals easily. He is way ahead of others and can again repeat the year 2012 if he plays like he has done in that year: What is interesting that he has the best game overall. A nice analysis:

The Big Four (Djokovic, Nadal, Federer, Murray) & Del Potro- Statistical Precursor to Australian Open 2012: Part 1 http://bit.ly/A1EskN


Kimberly Says:

I have never done the multiple draws. Kimmi, contador and margot have so they might know how. I believe you use the same name and just pick another bracket,


jane Says:

I thought I could do that Kimberly, but then I thought it might override my first one, so I stopped.

Kimmi, margot, if you see this before the deadline, can you tell me what I need to do to pick a second one? Please and thanks in advance.


Wog boy Says:

Grendel, you are spot on. First time I heard it was when I said something about somebody and the bloke told me ” I didn’t say that.” I looked at him and said “I know you didn’t.” He laughed and said ” what I meant was, I mean the same but I didn’t say it.” They use that phrase often, without finishing as you said. I have to tell you that it took me while to get used to Aussie English, through my education in Belgrade I had English educated teacher and she taught us English English. Even if I had to go out during the class, I wouldn’t be allowed unless I ask ” Excuse me, may I go to spend a penny.” :-)
If it wasn’t for google I wouldn’t know the meaning of that, after so many years.


grendel Says:

Spend a penny, Wog boy, you still hear that sometimes. In this idiom, of course, tuppence is what you might expect it to be. What about threepence? I think one might have to use one’s imagination for that one. I have a Nigerian friend who I haven’t seen for many years, and he mentioned a rather nice variation – not that he ever used it – but he insisted they did back where he came from. “I’m just going to shake my umbrella” one Nigerian (apparently) might say to another. That’s a pretty visual elaboration of one of our primary functions. It makes you wander – what do they say in Peru, how do Eskimos put it, what about Serbs?


Wog boy Says:

HAHAHA, Grendel I can’t stop laughing i am have a picture infront of me of what you are saying and I just cannot stop laughing :-)


Kimberly Says:

I would worry also it would override the first one. I guess there is a difference between edit picks and submit a bracket? Margot, Kimmi?


Michael Says:

It is wonderful to see Novak being so confident about 2012. He is optimistic of repeating his incredible 2011 performance and his biggest feat perhaps was beating Nadal consecutively in six important finals and also beat Roger quite consistently. He has now found his level and raring to go. The only thing I am worried is his fitness level and whether his body will bear the heat of Australian Open, a tournament he normally plays very well. My bet is on Novak to lift the title.


Michael Says:

Grendel, I am the one posting as Michael. But I know there is another Michael too who is posting which I cannot prevent because it can be his name too. I am doing this just to clear your confusion.


Kimmi Says:

You do what kimberly says jane. It does not override. I didnt bother doing it this time. maybe I should…


Epsilon Says:

Just a quick correction: What grendel probably means is split personality (dissociative identity disorder) rather than schizophrenia.

Also, why do they keep making polls only about who do you expect to win and not also about who you want to win? I can’t chose my favourite with a clear conscience.


roy Says:

djoker’s unbelievable season involved a lot of luck in key events. a lot more than federer’s or nadal’s 3slam seasons. which is why it’s unlikely to happen again.

consider nadal, no.1 at the time, pulled a hammy in the ozopen opening a rather large door. djoker didn’t have the mental edge on nadal at this stage. it was something he built with the 3set wins leading to wimbledon. i think nadal would have won a 5 set match if they’d met in oz.

and murray went awol for the american hard court swing in his usual post slam loss depression helping novak out again. murray is a huge threat in hard court masters generally speaking.

djoker escaped a loss with murray, who served for the match in one of those clay masters.

and the great escape of the season. everyone agrees that 9 times out of 10 djoker would have lost the usopen semi from that position, match points down on federer’s serve.

and back at wimbledon,nadal’s foot injury in SF didn’t hurt djoker’s cause either.

point is, luck always plays some role, but nadal and federer never had the luck novak had in their dominant years.


alison hodge Says:

mat 4 3.53pm,jan 14th,i did post as aliso hodge by accident,i missed the last letter of my first name thats all sorry.


Skorocel Says:

“Also, why do they keep making polls only about who do you expect to win and not also about who you want to win?”

Lord help us! Now that would be a “surprise” victor…


Skorocel Says:

roy: Djokovic was certainly THE luckiest player in 2011, that’s right. 13:3 against Nadal + Fed + Murray speaks volumes…


Wog boy Says:

@Skorocel:

I thought that it was 13:2 ?


Epsilon Says:

“Lord help us! Now that would be a “surprise” victor…”

It’s better than making the poll misleading because of fandom issues. I would like Federer to win but I don’t know enough to “expect” him to.


Epsilon Says:

Forgot to add @Skorocel. Sorry.


Skorocel Says:

@Wog boy: Yep, 13:2. Maths was always my Achilles’ heel ;-)

Top story: Djokovic, Murray Advance At US Open, Azarenka Survives; Federer, Monfils v Dimitrov Tuesday
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Rankings
ATP - Aug 25 WTA - Aug 25
1 Novak Djokovic1 Serena Williams
2 Rafael Nadal2 Simona Halep
3 Roger Federer3 Na Li
4 Stan Wawrinka4 Petra Kvitova
5 David Ferrer5 Agnieszka Radwanska
6 Milos Raonic6 Maria Sharapova
7 Tomas Berdych7 Angelique Kerber
8 Grigor Dimitrov8 Eugenie Bouchard
9 Andy Murray9 Ana Ivanovic
10 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga10 Jelena Jankovic
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