Following his incredible 5-set win over Rafael Nadal to capture his third Australian Open title, Novak Djokovic met the press to discuss his 5-hour, 53-minute epic victory:
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Many of you stayed this late. Thank you.
Q. We have to.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I know you have to, but make it look like you want to. (Laughter.)
Q. Was that the greatest win of your life?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Ah, yes. Right now, yes.
Probably Wimbledon because Wimbledon is right up there next to this one because it’s just the tournament that I always dreamed of winning.
But this one I think comes out on the top because just the fact that we played almost six hours is incredible, incredible. I think it’s probably the longest finals in the history of all Grand Slams, and just to hear that fact is making me cry, really.
I’m very proud just to be part of this history, part of the elite of the players that have won this tournament for several times, and I was very flattered to be playing in front of Rod Laver, in front of the all time greats, and in front of 15,000 people that stayed until 1:30 a.m.
It’s incredible, really.
Q. How did you keep going in that situation?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Look, you know, it’s finals. It was the fifth set. I had lots of chances to finish the match in the fourth, but he came up with some incredible serves and incredible points.
So he deserved to prolong the match in the fifth set, and then really both of us could have won the match. It could have gone either way. I felt my body started to slow down, but on the other hand, I was aware of the fact that he’s not as well feeling that great and fresh on the court.
I’m sure that physically it’s taking a toll on him, as well. So I tried mentally to hang in there, to hold my composure, to hold my emotions. And, you know, even when I was 4 2 down I still pushed myself up to the limit.
You know, one of the points I think of the match was at 4 All, fifth, the first point after 35 , 40 shot rally I think we both went down on our knees.
But these kind of matches I’m a professional tennis player. I’m sure any other colleague tennis player would say the same: We live for these matches. We work every day. We’re trying to dedicate all our life to this sport to come to the situation where we play six hour match for a Grand Slam title.
Q. Apart from the breathing problems you have been having, what other physical issues did you have to go through today and during the tournament?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Everything you can imagine. (Smiling.)
I mean, I don’t think it’s worth of talking now about these things. I mean, I overcomed everything, and that’s the most important thing for me.
And to be able to mentally hang in there and physically, you know I mean, it was obvious on the court for everybody who has watched the match that both of us, physically, we took the last drop of energy that we had from our bodies.
You know, I think it was just the matter of maybe luck in some moments and matter of, you know, wanting this more than maybe other player in the certain point.
You know, it’s just incredible effort.
Q. It was remarkable achievement. Rafa spoke about enjoying the suffering, actually building for this moment and enjoying the suffering.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I absolutely agree with him. I think I maybe had a similar feeling in couple of matches, but nothing like this. You know, you are in pain, you are suffer, you know that you’re trying to activate your legs, you’re trying to push yourself another point, just one more point, one more game.
You’re going through so much suffering your toes are bleeding. Everything is just outrageous, you know, but you’re still enjoying that pain.
So I would agree with that comment of Rafa.
Q. Can you talk us through your post match celebration with the shirt ripping, et cetera, and do you have energy to celebrate further tonight?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I don’t know. It’s already 4:00 a.m. I don’t know how far I can go, but right now I’m up for everything. (Laughter.)
Q. Maybe some breakfast?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Breakfast?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I don’t know. Food is not on my mind right now. (Smiling.)
Q. You talked about believing you could repeat 2011. If it’s going to be this tough, do you really want to go through this four times?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, if that’s the way, you know, then I guess I will have to go through it. I will have to accept it the way it is.
I mean, I’m not really concerned about the rest of the year how physically I’m gonna endure and all of that. It’s just the start of the year. I’m gonna have some weeks off now, and I’m gonna try to enjoy this victory as much as I can.
Then back to office, you know, back to work, preparation. There is much that awaits for me, but I definitely should enjoy the present moment.
Q. Can you go back to the 4 4 point, 31 ball rally. You hit the backhand; you miss it; you fall on your back. Was there any point when you’re on your back and you’re thinking, Maybe I should just stay down; I had a great year last year and I don’t want to get up?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: No, not at that point. At that point I was just thinking of getting some air and trying to recover for next point.
A thousand thoughts going through the mind, you know. Trying to separate the right from wrong, trying to prioritize the next point and taking it step by step.
I mean, I’m playing against one of the greatest players ever, you know, the player that is so mentally strong, and he always comes up with his best game and best shots at the right moments.
We both knew that we can’t really go too far in the rallies, so you could feel that we all tried to hit the ball as much as as hard as we could and tried to go for winners.
You know, he’s not usually the one that takes the advantage over the point in being aggressive and hitting full shots. He always tries to construct the point, and, you know, playing some variety in that game.
But then in the last game when I was serving I had a feeling that he was really trying to step into the backhand and forehand and just try to go for everything or nothing.
That’s what I have done in game before, so at that stage you have nothing left.
Q. In the last game you were crossing yourself after the break point. Did you actually say a prayer at that point?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yeah. I mean, yeah. I was trying to find every possible help and energy that I can. It paid off, I guess.
Q. Is there any part of you that feels a little bit sorry for Rafa? I mean, he keeps coming up against you in the final and he keeps losing.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, you know, I was in that position. I was in that position a couple years ago, you know, losing most of the semifinals and finals against him and Roger in Grand Slams so I know how it feels.
I really thought what I said sincerely on the court, is that unfortunately there had to only be one winner because we both gave it all. We both put 100% of our abilities on the court and played to the last moment.
Unfortunately there couldn’t be two winners, but he definitely deserved to be a winner as well tonight. You know, I would be saying same thing if I’m sitting here as a loser.
Q. How much time do you take off now?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I don’t know. I don’t know. I have to sit down with the team, but I’m definitely gonna take off at least two weeks.
Q. You are on the road to a Grand Slam if you win Roland Garros. How important will be your preparation for the French Open?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Very important, you know. I’m prioritizing Grand Slams this year, as every year, and Olympic Games. I think that’s one of my highest goals.
That doesn’t mean of course that I’m not gonna prepare well and perform my best on the other tournaments. It’s just that, you know, the Grand Slams matter the most.
So I want to do well and I want to get the first final at least in Paris, you know. I have never been in finals there, and I have a feeling that I’m ready this year to achieve that.
Q. Were you pleased when they gave you the chair in the ceremony?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Oh, yes, very pleased. I think we both were. We both respect and we are very much aware of the ceremonies and how they go. Everybody has to talk, of course. We agree with that.
But, you know, if they could only consider a little bit our condition at that point, you know, and I think they did. That’s why I want to thank them for those chairs, because it saved our legs.
Q. After this tennis overdose you just had, what are you going to say to your friends or acquaintances? Don’t talk about tennis for a week or…
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Please.
Q. Or a month?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Please, yes. I’m gonna definitely try to get that message to them (smiling).
Q. You had a brutal match against Murray, very, very tough, and then came back with one day less rest and won in a long match like that. How did you do it in terms of recovery? Was it really hard? Did you find a solution to help things out with regard to the breathing problems you had in the last match?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Generally it’s very important to prepare well. Everybody has a different routine and different scheduling and program of practicing and recovering, and, you know, just preparing for what’s coming up.
It’s an individual sport, so we all try to rely on the people who are traveling with us. That’s why I have said on the court is this is a team effort, you know, because I couldn’t do it myself. I need all these people to take care of every aspect of my career, for my body, in order for me to be able to be ready to perform the way I did.
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