Novak Djokovic Presser: As A Tennis Player This Is What You Live For, To Be Part Of A Match Like This
by Tom Gainey | June 5th, 2012, 6:44 pm

Novak Djokovic’s quest to win a fourth straight Grand Slam, “Djoker Slam”, nearly was derailed today. Djokovic had to save four matchpoints in a 61, 57, 57, 76, 61 victory over home hero Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.

Djokovic has now won 26 straight Grand Slam matches since losing to Roger Federer in the semifinals last year at the French Open, a match that will be played against on Friday.

Here’s what Novak said following his second straight five-set victory in Paris:

Q. It has been confirmed that you are going to do an exhibition match in Brazil in November. Are you excited about it? Have you ever come to Brazil? Would you like if the opponent could be Guga?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, yes, it’s the first time now that I talk about it. It’s confirmed. I’m really excited because I never been in Brazil.

I heard all the best things about your country. Of course, Guga is the biggest tennis legend there. I would like to play with him. It’s still not decided. Even if I play with Thomaz will be great.

Just the experience of being in Brazil makes me very happy.

Q. You actually played a little bit like Pele out there today. On those match points, how is it you’re able to raise your game and play such astonishing tennis when it’s such a big pressure occasion?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: There is really not any rational explanation or a word that can describe what you’re supposed to do when you’re match points down or when you’re losing and you’re very close to lose the match.

It’s, I guess, trying to be mentally tough and believing in your shots. Obviously a little bit of experience that I had playing on this level for last five, six years. I did have some matches similar to this one when I was match points down and managing to come back.

So I don’t want to be wise now and say, Okay, I know you how to play when I’m match points down. Because as I said, there is no explanation. I’m just going for the shots. I’m glad I was aggressive in these moments and, you know, it paid back for me.

Q. It felt as if being so close to being out unlocked something in you, because you seemed to produce from then the best level that you’ve played in the tournament by the look of it.

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, look, this level, this level of tennis is very mental, you know, lots of emotions. If you’re playing top player and home favorite and you have a crowd that is supporting him incredibly so, you have to face all these things.

Physically, we are all ready, we are all fit, and we are all hitting the ball well. But it’s a matter of, you know, just couple of points here and there will decide winner. That was the case.

I mean, if he would win he would deserve the win, no doubt. But, you know, that’s sport. The one that mentally, I think, pushes more maybe in some moments and obviously gets also a bit lucky and gets the win, you know, that’s how it goes.

You know, ones you win, ones you lose, but the more important thing is to try to take the best out of these matches and enjoy them, you know, because as a tennis player, this is what you live for. This is what you practice for all these years, you know, to be part of incredible performance, incredible match encounter here in Roland Garros, you know, with the home players.

I’m really glad that I could win today.

Q. In today’s match, Tsonga’s level, did it kind of surprise you? Because at some points you opened your hands in disbelief to some unbelievable shots he was doing. Was it more the winner’s spirit than anything else?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, look, you know, for the set and a half I played great. Jo was making a lot of unforced errors. He wasn’t serving the way he was serving after that.

So, you know, I think I felt good on the court. Then I played one bad service game, and that’s when the momentum changed, you know. He got crowd on his side, big support. He started serving whenever he was in trouble.

Break balls second, third, fourth set, he always served it out, and really big, which is not something that happened for the first time. He tends to play always his best when ­­ you know, when the pressure, he comes to the net and hits the ball. That’s why he’s one of the top players.

Yeah, it was incredible. I mean, at some stages, even though I thought I was returning really well and I was in the point, he just went for everything. He was playing, in my opinion, incredibly well.

But in the end, I managed to breakthrough.

Q. Last time I guess you said just the serve was working well. What about your performance today? Was it any better? Did you feel the ball better?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yeah, yeah, I felt much better. I really think that even though I was very close to lose this match I still played really well. Because my opponent as well, I have to give him credit for his performance, as I said.

But we played a very good quality match, I think.

Q. The moment when you sort of came up awkwardly after a backhand shot, looked as though perhaps you may have injured yourself. I was wondering what exactly you did there and how worried you may have been in that very moment.

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, you know, at that very moment I didn’t know what to expect and how the leg would react. But it was the hamstring full stretch, you know, and it was a very quick, very sharp move.

So luckily for me there was no consequences.

Q. You’ve talked many times about the experience you’ve gotten in big matches. Could you talk a little bit about how that helps you at these moments? Is it just knowing how to play or getting used to the emotions? What is it?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, as I said, it’s a very small part of today’s case, you know, that experience of playing on a big stage. It does have its own part and role of today’s win and comeback that I had, but the bigger part is just staying composed, you know, and believing in your shots, really.

I mean, Jo has equal amount of experience playing in the big matches. He played finals of Grand Slams and he’s top 5, top 10 player for the last couple of years. I didn’t play anyone who is unexperienced at these moments, at this stage.

I mean, as you could see, whenever he was very close in important moment he went for the shot, so that’s what I did, as well.

You know, one of us had to win.

Q. Today was quite a match. If I could ask you to look ahead for a moment ­ special semifinal coming up ­ I’m wondering, first of all, if, to you, there is a special meaning in facing Federer again here in the semifinals after last year, and what maybe sticks out in particular from last year’s match for you.

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, another great semifinal. I don’t want to talk too much about Roger. We all know his quality and can always expect him to perform his best at this stage of the tournament.

He came back from two sets down today. We both played tough matches in last two rounds. Now we’re going to have two days off and expect exciting semifinal.

You know, last year we were part of a great match that went the distance, and he played incredibly well. I thought I played on a very high level. I just hope we can have another good match for us and for the crowd to be a part of.

I think for me it’s crucial to be very focused and aggressive from the first moment, because that’s something that you can always expect Roger to have, you know, that control over the opponent from the start. I will try to be out there believing I can win.

Now there is no really favorite for that match. It’s semifinals, so everything is open.


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26 Comments for Novak Djokovic Presser: As A Tennis Player This Is What You Live For, To Be Part Of A Match Like This

Dejan Acimovic Says:

After last two matches, Novak Djokovic has proved why he is number one in the World. Even though he had tough time with Italian Seppi, and today with the French favorite Tzonga, Novak found a mental toughness and with his great physical ability to overcome both times two set deficit and beat his opponents in five sets. Today Tzonga had four match points, but Novak’s mental toughness was able to overcome and save all four of them. I hope that on Friday he will continue to play as good as today and beat Swiss master Roger Federer. Both men, Roger and Novak, had tough quarter final matches and they will have to recupurate as quickly as possible, before they meet on Friday. If the weather stays cold and rainy, will definatly favor Serbian Djokovic. But if it warms up, I can see Federer as a favorite. Simply because game will be faster and Djokovic will not have lots of time to react on the deadly Roger forehand. As for Djokovic, he needs to force Roger to hit more backhands, and not allow him to step inside the base line. If it goes five sets, I give younger and tougher Djokovic the edge. But if Roger has any chance, he has two take it to him early and finish him in three or four sets. Who ever wins, will not have an easy final against one of the best clay court players, Spanish Rafa Nadal.

Michael Says:

I think it would be really frustrating for Tsonga or rather any player to lose such close matches when they are dicatating it. All said and done, I think Tsonga took the defeat in his stride and reacted sportingly. Only such an carefree approach can take you further in this brutal sport. Afterall, there may be days when you manage to win a match which you never deserve to win. That is Tennis.

sportific Says:

Michael are you saying that about Roger’s win as well,since he was losing to Delpo in the beginning, or did Djokovic only not deserve to win?

Michael Says:

It is imperative for Novak to gain points here because after this he has lot of defending to be done.

Michael Says:


Leading just by two sets and having four match points are totally different things. You have to be lucky when you have match point against you. I do not want to take anything away from the win of Novak. He maintained his composure in the most important moments of the match and truly deserved to win. But you should also have sympathy for a player like Tsonga who was very unlucky I would say to lose the match. Regarding Roger’s match against Del potro it was not the case although Del Potro was leading by two sets to love. The score in the next three sets tells the story and in one there was a bagel. Therefore these two matches cannot be compared by any stretch of imagination.

montecarlo Says:

Mental toughness my foot, it was plain luck. Djokovic twice hit the lines and Tsonga missed an easy chance to pass on the first match point and Djokovic miraculously again hit the lines on two other match points. Looks like djokovic is destined to get the Nole Slam. He should have lost against Murray and Nadal at AO but lucked out, should have lost against Federer at USO but lucked out.I remember He was extremely lucky on break point chances with net chords helping out at Wimbledon too. Its all destiny. Djokovic may not win another slam ever again but his luck will help him take this Nole Slam.

Ben Pronin Says:

You make your own luck.

Wog boy Says:


Tsonga had four MP but on Novak’s serve, they worth less than Rogers two match points (USO) on his own serve, no? As Brando stated on other thread, Tsonga had a real chance only on one of these four MP. I disagree about luck, I would call it determination, expirience, not giving up, keeping cull had under pressure, you name it, luck played least part in this match. His body language never said “this is it, this is the end”, on the contrary Tsonga’s body language in fifth said “this is it, I cannot take it any more”.


If you continue about Nole’s luck, the way you are doing, we will find out that Nole was actually lucky to be born, according to your theory he probably wasn’t supposed to be born.

Ben Pronin,

You couldn’t say it better.

Steve 27 Says:

More luck is when you faced a injury opponent and he didn’t try anything in the next two sets. Great luck, really.
Djoko will win against the Swiss
Showtime on Sunday.

Michael Says:

Wog Boy,

I tend to agree with you. Serving for the match and breaking to win the match are totally different things. Tsonga had only 4 MPs on Novak’s serve. As I said, I do not want to take anything away from Novak’s win. He deserved to win in the end. But in the same vein, we should also feel sorry for a player like Tsonga as luck plays an important factor in every sport. I do not know how to define luck ?? I say luck because I cannot explain it otherwise. It so happened I would say would be the right term to use and Novak used his experience, determination, tenacity and never say die attitude to register a win. Congrats to him. Now I do not want him to waste this excellent opportunity and go on to win the coveted Grand Slam, one of the prized possession in this sport. Novak can definitely do it.

Michael Says:

Steve 27, When even Del Potro is denying that the injury affected his play, why are you hinging on it ??

King Federer Says:

michael :

because he is a raf@tard!

King Federer Says:

if raf@tards ruled the world, they would explain every freaking tennis match based on which player had lesser “injuries”. you can’t blame them. nadal has turned their already hollow heads into mush with all his “injuries”.

if you believe some raf@tards on other message forums, rafa has NEVER lost a match when he was not injured! people will laugh @ such stupidity from raf@tards with their bu77s!

King Federer Says:

if people made their own luck, thomas johannason or schiavone would never have been GS champs.

when you are defending match points on serve/return – you need luck.

How many match points has novak faced in his life? how many has he saved? i would be surprised if it is even more than 5%. to talk about that as a “certainty” is a joke. to explain something that is achieved with a 5% success rate as something devoid of luck is stupidity.

it is not only luck that nole saved those match points. by the same token, he did not do it without a slice of luck either.

Mark Says:

I think Nole’s luck is about to run out. He has had plenty of it in the last year and a half coupled with the supposition that Rod Laver will jinx him like he jinxed The Rafa slam last year.

Wog boy Says:


It looks like mission impssible, two five seters and two of the bests yet to come, but than again this is sport. Federer stopped Nole last year in one of the best matches I have seen, I hope that this year Nole will prevail simple because he deserves chance to have a crack at Nole-slam, if not for anything than for all what he did in last 18 months, which I think was good for tennis too:)
One thing for sure, Fedole is going to be cracker of a match.

Michael Says:

Wog Boy,

Mission impossible ? No I do not agree. It is possible more so for a player like Novak. True after playing two five setters back-to-back, Novak should have been exhausted, but he has two days of rest to rejuvenate himself and I think Novak is not afraid to play long matches and infact he relishes it. As a positive I would say those five setters would have given him more confidence and tuned his mindset with a winning attitude and as somebody who cannot just lose. Sure, it is a tall order and Novak still has more job to do, he has to beat Roger and then possibly Nadal back-to-back. Infact Novak would be more than happy if in the finals he has to beat a player other than Nadal but on the flip side that too would put added pressure on him since he would be the favourite. However now when he plays Nadal, he is not the favourite and he can definitely go all out to win. Novak knows how to play Nadal and it is only that in the last two matches he has not executed that well. His corner shorts are not catching the lines as they did last year and who knows may be in the finals that magic shot finds the line often. But that is for the later and now Novak has his first hard task cut out and ie. beating Roger which is very difficult in a major despite the latter being aged.

Wog boy Says:

Hopefully they will be able to play SF, my weather app says rain,rain,rain in Paris and pretty cold, 21 degrees.

King Federer Says:

only way novak gets a nole slam is if nadal doesn’t make the final.

in 4 best-of-5-matches on clay, against rafa, nole has won – you guessed it right!- 0 sets. now, if nole gets real lucky and gets almagro in the finals, then the nole slam becomes a possibility rather than being “lucky”. it would be a great achievement regardless of who is across the net, though.

everything will be against nole on sunday if it is a final against rafa. 1st FO final against 7th for rafa. no best of 5 victories on clay and on a court that rafa has been beaten once (or is it 0?)

it is like fedal is fighting against djokovic to prevent him from doing what they could not.

skeezer Says:

Novak has a very good shot at beating Rafa if they meet. Novak, will have been tested by “Iron”. Tsonga and Fed.

Rafa is being tested by his homeys that he owns.

Don’t forget Nole has a mental edge(7 times in a row) and can make Rafa’s head hurt and make Rafa question his own winning ways on court(it was Novak who forced Rafa for the first time to try the GOAT strategy of moonballing). And the bigger motivation for Nole, when is the next time he’ll be able to win 4 slams in a row? Nole is fully aware of the importance of winning FO and has stated so.

IF he beats Fed, he’ll show up and make a match of it, believe it.

Mark Says:

Rod Laver will jinx the Nole slam!!

Skeezer Says:

Fed in the Semi finals on his worst surface ever at an old age? How can that be? Another all time lucky record? Sure….hahaha

Ben Pronin Says:

Johansson and Schiavone getting lucky are extremely different from Djokovic getting lucky. Why? Because how is it at all logical to just say Djokovic keeps getting lucky? I was saying this even when Djokovic hit “the shot” against Federer. That’s just how Djokovic plays. I didn’t say he wasn’t lucky, I said he made his own luck. Of course it’s not a certainty, but he put himself in the right position to get lucky in the first place. And he’s been doing it for over a year now.

Brando Says:

You CANNOT blame jo for the MPS- novak played EXTREMELY well on them. He hit very good 1st serves, and then dictated the points on them- that’s just EXCELLENT play. Jo had a chance on ONLY 1 MP- the rest he couldn’t do much else. BAR the USO 11 SF novak has NOT BEEN lucky, but VERY GOOD on mps. On his serve, he’s played the MPs brilliantly credit to him.

Brando Says:

P.S I ONLY mention USO 11, since in IMO when you have MPs on your serve you SHOULD seal the deal. When you RF on serve you DEFINATELY should seal the deal.

Steve 27 Says:

skeezer, at 31 almost 32 and 32 almost 33, Connors reaches the semifinals of RG. Is pretty impressive indeed.

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