Ahead of his match tomorrow evening against former Australian Open finalist Marcos Baghdatis, world No. 1 and defending tournament champion Novak Djokovic met the media today at the Sony Ericsson Open Miami.
Among the topics discussed were his title defense, career milestones and the Olympics.
Q. How does it feel to be back at the Sony Ericsson this year?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, it feels good. I have done well in Miami. This is actually the first big event that I won back in 2007. Had couple of great wins. You know, it was a big springboard for me, for my career.
I think Miami is very entertaining city, very multi cultured, international. Can see a lot of people from different parts of the world coming here to support their tennis players. It’s always nice weather and there’s a lot to do, really. It’s a beautiful place that, you know, that can offer a lot of enjoyment.
Q. Talk about just your mindset when you come back to the tournament and are defending a title.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, you know, I might defend the title in this tournament or any other tournament, but my mindset really does not work on that frequency. I’m really trying to fight for the title. I’m here to fight for it as any other player. I believe that every season is different, every year is different, every tournament, every week is different. So I’m trying to adjust to it.
And the term “defending champion” is, to be honest, it sounds a little bit stagnated, sounds a little bit flat, like you’re waiting for something and not doing really anything.
So I’d rather prefer to be in this group of players who is chasing the title, fighting for it, and not actual actually waiting for it to be handed to me.
Q. Obviously you’re hoping to play a lot of big matches this year. How much priority are you putting on the Olympics?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Olympics is right at the top of the priority list. So I’m really looking forward to that experience.
Um, you know, Olympic Games are the most prestigious and the most important sports event, you know, in the history of the sport.
You know, I had this privilege to be representing my country in 2008 Beijing Olympics where I’ve met a lot of world top athletes. For me, that was actually an incredible experience, and more than playing in the tournament (smiling).
But still, again, I had great success. I won a medal, and it’s just the different experience from any other, really, because you’re representing, you know, Serbia, your country, and you’re sharing the rooms with different athletes. You’re being in the Olympic Village.
Well, this time actually we will be closer to Wimbledon in one of the houses for tennis players, because it’s more convenient for us to be close to the courts.
Q. What do you think the Olympics at Wimbledon will be like?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, the first thing that comes on my mind is the color difference. So this is going to be interesting to see, because we all know that Wimbledon has a long tradition and history of all white on the court, dress code.
But during the Olympics they allow to have the national colors, so we’ll see how that’s gonna look.
Q. Of all the milestones that you’ve had, especially in the last year, what is your most memorable moment on the court?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, Wimbledon has to stand out, because I always had a goal and dream to win Wimbledon and to become No. 1 in the world. I achieved that in one tournament.
Yes, it was quite a remarkable experience, quite a remarkable achievement that I got to celebrate with my family, friends, and went back home to Serbia and had an incredible reception that I will never forget.
Q. Have you gotten the opportunity to go around the island of Key Biscayne when you are not on the court playing?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I have been staying the last couple of years in Ritz Carlton, in the hotel here in Key Biscayne. You know, most of my time that I’m spending I’m spending on the island. I like it very much. As I was saying before, the weather is great. We have the beach just in front of the hotel. You know, the courts are nearby. You don’t need to be stuck in the traffic. You don’t need to worry about that.
Yeah, it’s very nice. It’s beautiful, you know. You can bike around; you can walk around; it’s very quiet and very private.
Q. How much are you enjoying playing for your national campaign, for your national colors, considering, like, in the Olympics you will be a month off of the ATP and everybody knows that you really love to be No. 1?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I was just talking about the Olympic experience. I believe that it’s different from any other individual event that we have on the ATP Tour. Even though you’re representing your country, still different from Davis Cup, as well.
But, you know, I will be one of those athletes in the Olympic Games which will try to get a medal for their country, will try to enjoy every single moment of the tennis tournament and Olympic Games in general.
I will try to go and watch some other sports. Unfortunately, the tennis tournament goes on only for, you know, eight days, and then we have to move on to Canada. So it’s not really a lot of time for us to experience some other sports.
But I’ll try to take the best out of it.
Q. You have a lot of good players in Serbia. In the past two years, it seems that you have been a springboard in bringing everybody with you. How important it is for you to help this group? Most of them, they’re your friends, how do you try to motivate and help them also to come to do the best they can?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Um, well, it has been a few amazing years for Serbian tennis. You know, we didn’t have such a great tradition in this sport in our country. We are still, I have to say, a nation of team sports. We had lots of success and long history in basketball and volleyball, water polo, handball, these kind of sports.
This is the first time that some individual sport stands out and delivers some world class tennis players, and it’s great, you know. I grew up with all the tennis players that are coming from Serbia, especially with my Davis Cup colleagues. We know each other really well, and we do get to share a lot of success and experiences, ups and downs, highs and lows, and try to help each other in every possible way with advices.
We are always seeking to improve and get better. I believe that our past that we had in our country, which was very turbulent, I have to say, helped us to, you know, discover that great desire for the success and, you know, to become one of the world’s best tennis players.
This mentality, very, very strong mentality, is actually something that separates, I think, people from that region from any other.
Q. One more Olympic question: What are your thoughts about the addition of mixed doubles?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yeah, I think more chances you have to win a medal, it’s better. You know, I’m not playing mixed doubles because I already have singles and doubles. I think it would be a little bit too much.
But still, it’s interesting to have that, obviously. It’s, as I said, more chances to win a medal.
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