Novak Djokovic captured his third Sony Ericsson Open Miami title on Sunday, beating Andy Murray 6-1, 7-6. Djokovic collected his 30th career title, second of the year..
The World No. 1 never lost a set en route to his 11th career Masters crown. He’s improved to 8-5 lifetime against Murray and avenged a loss, one of two he’s suffered this year, to the Scot in Dubai last month.
Djokovic said he’ll know take a week off before hitting the practice courts in preparation for the Monte Carlo (Apr 15) and the clay season.
Djokovic met the press afterward:
Q. Good to close it out in the tiebreaker?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yeah. Three similar matches, you know, three last matches of the tournament. Won the opening set 6 1 and felt great on the court, and then had a lot of chances in the three opening series games of this where I could break, but I didn’t, and, you know, that’s something to expect when you’re playing a top player, quality player like Murray.
When he feels the chance, he always grabs it. You know, luckily for me I came out with some good serving when I needed to. You know, I think I served over 70% of first serves in, which was really important today to get a couple of free points on that serve and set up a good second shot, and I have done that when I needed to.
Q. How eager were you to get out of there in just two sets? That second set went long.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yeah, it went long, I mean, over two hours for two sets.
But when two baseline players are playing, you know, high quality tennis, you can expect it goes the distance. I wasn’t expecting a short match, definitely.
I came in knowing it’s going to be physical, knowing that I’m gonna have to play each point, each game in order to win this match.
Q. Some of the other guys, they almost make a big deal of being out there, making it go a long time. With Murray sometimes it’s hard to tell. Looks as if he’s almost out of it but yet he seems very close and ready to turn it around.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yeah, because he has a lot of shots in his repertoire he can come up with and can be playing equally offensive and defensive. He’s a great athlete, great agility, balance, you know, anticipation on the court, big serve, one of the best returns in the game. He’s got all of the variety in the game. That’s why he’s so dangerous on any surface.
Q. The three titles you’ve won here, can you just say what each one has meant to you and how each one is different.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Each one is different. Obviously the 2007 title was the first big title I won. Since then I started making some really big results in the big events, and it was a big confidence boost for me, you know, strong wind in the back for my career. I was still quite young and careless on the court hitting the ball very strong.
But then over the years, you know, I got the experience playing on the top level, and I got stronger physically, worked on my game obviously, always seeking to improve.
Last year’s tournament was great, as well, and, you know, finals especially with Rafa went the distance, you know, till the last point of the match. Didn’t know who was gonna win it.
Again this year, I didn’t drop a set, which is very impressive. I’m really happy with the way I played last three matches against three very good opponents and top players, so this is a very positive thing, you know, for continuation of the season.
Q. The three matches that you mentioned, they were almost the same. Is it that you laid back a little bit on the second match [sic], you know, with these players? Because you are confident that in the end if you step up you’re gonna win, or…
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I didn’t lay back. Results wise, they were similar, but I played against three different opponents. You know, I think, as I said before, that I delivered the best game when I needed to, and I came up with good serves and aggressive shots when the opportunity was presented, and I took it.
That’s what matters the most, really. You know, I won three tiebreaks out of three matches: quarterfinals, semifinals, and finals. And that’s something that gives me a lot of confidence, as well, you know, for the next challenges.
Q. How important is this result for the clay season that comes now and Roland Garros?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Oh, any title is big, and it means a lot, I mean, such a big tournament that is considered one of the biggest tournaments in our sport. I won three times here. I think that says enough about how I feel playing in Miami.
I love the crowd. It’s a lot of support. Night sessions are my most preferable here, because the crowd gets into it and you can feel that great vibe in the stands.
I have been really playing well in the last couple of years here, so this is going to be very encouraging for me prior to the clay court season. I’m gonna have more confidence coming into the Monte Carlo tournament. It’s going to be the opening tournament on clay.
I haven’t played it last year. I look forward to it. I want to start well. I want to start strong. I want to go deep in the tournament, and, you know, there is a lot of tournaments coming up. Obviously Roland Garros, Olympics, Wimbledon, they are top of the priority list, but still, I want to perform well on all the others.
Q. Is Miami your favorite?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: One of my favorites.
Q. Some people would have thought that with Andy Murray having two walkovers and you’ve played so many matches in the last several weeks that maybe you would be tired and he would be fresher. Did you feel that way at all going in?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Oh, no, really. I mean, scheduling was good for me. I had a day off yesterday. I had some time off to get energized and get ready for the finals.
Played couple of day session matches, night session matches. So I thought the scheduling was really well. I felt physically really good.
You know, for two tournaments we are spending four weeks here, so it’s not really playing intensively every day. It was okay.
Q. The win last year came in the middle of the start of that incredible run of wins. Where do you think your game is now compared to a year ago? Do you think it’s possible to repeat one like that?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, look, you know, the season was incredible, especially the opening five, six months of the year.
Every year is different. So I’m coming in in this year with a Grand Slam win and now a Miami win, couple of semifinals. I think I’m playing equally well as I did 12 months ago.
But again, it’s different. It’s a different approach. I still want to fight for every title, as everybody else, have this positive mindset, not really defending or calculating how many points I can lose and things like that. So every tournament for me is equally important.
Q. After you win a championship like this, do you allow yourself to go to the bakery, or are you very strict…
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Bakery?
Q. Are you very strict about your no bread, no pasta?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: No, no. Right now I mean, I don’t know. I cannot guarantee anything. (Laughter.)
I think I deserve a fresh bagel. (Smiling.)
Q. What about your spirit this year compared to last year? Last year you were clearly a man on a mission. Now it’s almost like you’re beyond that point, you’re somewhere else. Can you talk about that?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Um, well, I feel that, you know, being No. 1 and having the best year of my career in 2011 is you know, I’m playing at the peak of my form and I’m playing the best tennis that I have played.
So I have to use that as much as I can, you know, coming into every tournament that I play. The competition is getting stronger, I believe. Everybody is so professional nowadays.
You have the top players playing in all the top events, you know. That wasn’t the case maybe five, ten years ago.
So that makes it even tougher for anybody to win a title. But I’m ready for it, you know.
We all, you know, give each other, especially the top players, give each other a reason to improve always and look forward to, you know, to win as many titles as we can.
Q. You seem pretty comfortable with No. 1. How do you feel lately on the court? Are you feeling that there is a bigger gap between you and the rest of the players?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Ah, I mean, there is no gap, you know, really. Every tournament is a new opportunity for all the players to win a title. That’s how I look at it.
Rankings, you know, I don’t need to say too much. You have different surfaces, different seasons that, you know, are more suitable to different kind of players.
So, you know, clay court is obviously Nadal and Spanish players, South Americans, are the ones who have, in past couple of years, more success than the others, but, you know, I believe that everybody’s improving their game on the different surfaces.
It’s very demanding, you know. I think I have been playing really well on all different kinds of surfaces. Winning the title on grass for me in Wimbledon last year was a great feeling and an important title, you know, for my career.
Q. Did the heat affect the performance today? The heat?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, it was quite warm, you know. It went over two hours, and we had many long rallies, but that’s something that you expect when you’re playing a tough rival and somebody that has very similar style of the game that I have.
You know, our games are based on the baseline and hitting a lot of baseline shots and being very patient and aggressive at times.
So, yeah, it was tough, you know, at some times. But I think we both felt really good physically.
Q. Practice court session before the game against Monaco, you hit a home run. Are you a baseball fan? How much is having fun part of your game plan?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Honestly, I’m not a big fan of baseball. I’m a fan of hitting the home runs with a tennis racquet on the practice sessions. (Smiling.)
We try to come up with some crazy ideas and invent new sports on the tennis court. Yesterday we played a little tennis hockey, if you want to call it, or whatever, on the practice.
So we like having fun. I mean, sometimes that brings good energy and, you know, makes you relax a little bit and don’t think about pressure and expectations and knowing that you have to, you know, fight for a title but still enjoying a little bit in the off court activities.
Q. I’m guessing you’re feeling as strong physically as you ever have. Are you a little curious yourself to see what kind of game you have on clay this season to find out?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Always curious, you know. Clay, I think, demands most physical effort out of all surfaces from the player. So I have an extra week, as everybody else, comparing to the other seasons to prepare for Monte Carlo tournament.
I’m gonna have now a week off and then a week of practice. I have more than enough time to get ready.
But as I said, you know, you have to be physically very fit. Your endurance has to be on a very high level, because all the long rallies that you play on hard courts, it’s double that on clay.
But, you know, knowing that I had such a great clay court season last year and some clay court wins in major events gives me confidence prior to this one.
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