Congratulations to all the Novak Djokovic fans. Their guy finished the 2012 season in the very best possibly way winning the ATP Finals as an undefeated champion yesterday after beating Roger Federer 76(6), 75 in an entertaining match.
Djokovic finishes ranked No. 1 for a second straight year. This season he won six titles including the Australian Open; he was a runner-up at the French and the US Opens. And he ended winning 15 of his final 16 matches culminating with his second ATP Finals title, a win he dedicated to his father who has been ill and remains in intensive care.
Comparing this season to his amazing an amazing 2011, Djokovic revealed that he considers this year more of a success especially given some of the issues he’s dealt with off court with his grandfather passing and father health troubles this fall.
Speaking the press after the big win, Djokovic talked further about his great season, his vacation plans and what the future may hold for the Serb:
Q. Tremendous season and a win at the finals. Can I take you back to last year when you got to No.1. You didn’t have to win that Wimbledon final against Nadal, but you have to prove to yourself and to the world you are the No.1. Tonight was a similar scenario. How satisfying is all this for you?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: It’s tremendous, you know, success. It’s very satisfying for my team and myself to conclude this fantastic season with a World Tour Finals win. I never got to the finals of this tournament in London. The furthest I got is semifinals a couple years ago where I lost straight sets to Roger.
I wasn’t really feeling this surface very well, you know, in past couple of years. Always coming in very tired, not managing to play my game. But this year has been different. I got motivated, got a little bit more physically fresh. You know, I wanted really to fight and I really wanted to get as far as I can in this tournament.
Winning all the matches I played makes it even more special.
Q. After about eight minutes you were 3‑Love down, Roger was playing great tennis. What was going through your mind to turn it around?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, just trying to hang in there. It’s not the first time that Roger starts against me so well. I’ve experienced before his aggressivity, really trying to put his mark on the match. It’s what he’s done again.
You know, I didn’t know in which direction the match would really go, but I tried to convince myself that I will make a turnaround and I will fight. It happened again. I managed to deliver my best game when it was needed the most.
Q. Among the more than 80 games you played this year, where would you rate the level of this one?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I was playing really great tennis throughout the whole week. The first match, you know, still feeling a little bit rusty on the court. But I won against Andy. That was a big confidence booster for me. You know, every match after that I felt like I played really very close to the top of my game.
And tonight, you know, whenever I needed to, to come up with some really good shots, really focus myself and get every ball back in the court, I’ve done that. So I cannot be more thrilled than I’m feeling now.
Q. Can you describe the feeling of finishing the most incredible year with the most incredible shot.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yes. It’s best way to finish the match, I guess, with a passing shot ‑ one of my favorite shots. I wasn’t intending to get him on the net. I tried to stay in the rally and get more aggressive in that rally. But, you know, he came in. That was the only space left for me to make a passing shot, and I made it.
Q. When you talk about points like that last one, are those things that just don’t happen in tournaments where you’re physically a little bit jaded or your motivation isn’t as high?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, it’s hard to say, you know, and really predict if that’s going to happen or not, depending on a match, depending on an opponent, depending on how you feel. For every opponent, I’m trying to individually prepare my tactics.
I mean, for Roger tonight, considering the fact that it was a final, I needed to play really well and consistently well throughout the whole match, because he’s the two‑time defending champion. He won against Andy, played a fantastic match last night. So I knew that he’s going to come in and really have nothing to lose, you know, playing his game.
So I tried to stay focused and be patient in the rallies in a way and wait for my chance.
Q. Did you ever question yourself, whether you could back to back No.1′s? Having done it, can you give us some idea of the sense of achievement that you’ve backed it up?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, it’s been a very long year, a very long two years, but very successful two years. I didn’t really know how I will follow up after incredible 2011, but I believed that I have to use the time where I’m playing the best tennis of my life and I’m winning Grand Slams, finally realize what I need to do to win the major tournaments.
This was my time, my moment, and I needed to step in and really believe in my ability. So throughout the whole season I’ve had lots of success and had some disappointing losses at big events, in a couple major finals.
But, you know, all in all, it was a fantastic year, where I’ve had to face a lot of difficulties off the court as well. You know, especially coming into this tournament, having my father fighting his own fight for health gave me extra strength that I wanted to play for him in a way. That’s one of the reasons I really gave it all every match, especially tonight. This was a title for him.
Q. You won without losing a match. Do you think you made Roger anxious, to try to hit so much, too much, because he made so many mistakes with the forehand? Do you think it was your patience?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: The level was very high. I thought that we both played really well. The momentum was changing, coming to his side and my side throughout the match.
I knew that the only way for me to really win the match is to be consistently focused and committed to every point. You know, he’s somebody that is very aggressive, that likes to finish his points very quickly. Especially when he’s a break up, he’s probably the best player I’ve played ever against. He comes up always with his A game when he’s up. It’s very difficult to handle that.
But, you know, I managed to get a lot of his shots back into the court, being passive, a couple meters behind the baseline, coming into an aggressive position. That was one of the goals tonight, to always try to get him into the longer rallies where I think I had the better chance.
Q. Can you give us some interesting details on your holiday plans. Pierre has been here with you. Will he get any bonus?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: He’s going to get an extra bone tonight, for sure. He got a lot of presents actually that we’ve been enjoying these last couple of days.
But he needs time off, as well, so we’re going back home. We’re looking forward to that. He’s been warming me up before every match, so it was really funny.
But considering my holidays, I have a busy week now. Next six, seven days, I have a couple exhibition events. Then two and a half weeks completely off in a very tropical, very beautiful place with no racquet, no nothing, no tennis, just trying to recharge my batteries.
Q. You mentioned your father just now. I know you’ve been reluctant to talk about his health. At this stage, can you tell us any more about how he is now?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, he’s much better now. The reason why I was reluctant is because I don’t think that’s a subject for media. It has to stay private in a way because it’s a family matter. I don’t want people to start talking about my father’s health.
But it is something that has been happening for last couple weeks. At a certain stage, it was very critical. We didn’t know what tomorrow brings. But now he’s much better and he’s recovering. He’s still in intensive care. I’m going to visit him tomorrow and see how it goes and try to bring a trophy with me and at least make him smile.
Q. It was a fitting finale. How do you reflect on 2012 and what are your hopes and aspirations for the new season?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, right now I’m really not thinking about the new season. Actually trying to enjoy this victory as much as I can. Before this tournament started, we got the trophy for year‑end No.1, then we confirmed it with this World Tour Finals title.
It means a lot for my team and myself that we’ve been working very hard and we knew how much commitment and dedication is required in order to achieve such great success. We have always great hopes and great goals for the upcoming seasons, and this is definitely going to be a strong wind in my back. This season it’s going to help me to get better on the court to try to win as many big tournaments as possible.
My goals, ambitions, expectations for myself are always very high. But I’m aware that rest is very much needed at this moment, and it’s crucial for me to try to take some time off because the season is very long, it’s very draining emotionally also. I’m sure I’m going to be fit for Australia.
Q. Roger said the other day he would prefer a best‑of‑five for the last match of the season. What are your thoughts on that?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I’m okay with best‑of‑three. I think there is no need to have best‑of‑five. But obviously respecting everybody’s opinion.
Q. Talk a little bit about your vacation. You are going to Brazil in a few days. You are scheduled to play football. I would like to know if you’re good in football and if you can play like Petkovic and if you have any Brazilian hero in football?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Brazil is such a great and successful nation in that sport. It’s the national sport. It’s my first time going to Brazil, going to Rio de Janeiro. I’m going to play with Guga in an exhibition event. It’s going to happen in five or six days. Then we’re going to have an opportunity to play in a big stadium with some big stars that I got some names mentioned as Bebeto and Cafu and Zico. Hopefully all these great legends of that sport will be there.
I’m a big football fan. I love football. Played a couple times only on the big pitch. I’m terrible. But I try to enjoy the moment and hopefully have fun.
Q. I know you like Italy very much. You support AC Milan. Italian people love you very much. What is your relationship with Italy? Will you go soon?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I spent a lot of time in Italy throughout my life and career. I used to practice there in Florence, obviously coming back every year for Roma Masters. I live now with my girlfriend in Monte‑Carlo, which is very close to Italy. We get to spend a lot of time in Italy. We speak Italian language. We love that country.
I believe the Italian mentality has a lot in common with the Serbian mentality. I love the pasta, the food, the different sights that you can explore more and more during the summer, during the winter. I’ll be back there as soon as possible.
Q. Considering the expectations you had coming into this season, some of the off‑court problems that you mentioned with your family, then the fact you finished this season much more strongly than you thought, do you think you’ll look back at this season being more satisfying than 2011?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: It’s a good question. I actually feel even more satisfied right not than last year, even though I had an incredible 2011. I feel this year, considering the circumstances that I had to face on and off the court, expectations, all these things, I believe that this year has been even more successful for me.
Q. How much are you looking forward to the rivalry with Rafa and seeing if you can reverse it back in your favor?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Tennis misses Rafa a lot. He’s a globally recognized tennis player and athlete, very popular, very attractive player to watch and a great competitor. He already became a legend of this sport and he’s only 26.
But obviously that injury is very serious, kept him away for all second part of the year. I really hope for him that he’s going to recover and we’re going to see him in Australia, because he definitely deserves to be back. I’m sure that everybody will be happy to see him on the court.
I have to say one more word, Tasmania. Has nothing to do with it. Tasmania, Tasmania. I said it three times so I get bonus for this (smiling).
ATP Video montage:
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