Novak Djokovic Presser: My Level Of Performance Against Stan Was Not Where I Wanted It To Be
by Staff | January 30th, 2015, 10:16 am

Novak Djokovic advanced to his fifth Australian Open final Friday after a 7-6(1), 3-6, 6-4, 4-6, 6-0 5-set win over Stan Wawrinka. The win avenged Djokovic’s loss to the Swiss a year ago in the quarterfinals and put the Serb just three sets from a fifth Australian Open title, 8th overall.

On Sunday, Djokovic will meet childhood rival Andy Murray for a 24th time. The two have split five prior Grand Slam final meetings with Djokovic leading Murray 15-8 overall, winning the last four.

But after the rather sloppily-played match, Djokovic was less than pleased by his performance. Going into the final Murray may be the more in-form player.

Here’s what Novak said:

Q. Can you go through this match because there were a lot of ups and downs. You came through at the end, but it looked like a huge struggle for you.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yeah, I did not play on the level that I intended before the match. There were parts of the match where I stepped in and played a game I needed to play, but parts of the match where I played too defensive and allowed him to dictate the play from the baseline. He has great depth in his shots. Once he has control of the rallies it’s very difficult to play against him. So, yeah, it was very emotional, very tense, as it always is against a top player in semifinals of a Grand Slam. Of course, judging by the last two matches we played here in Australian Open last two years, we could expect something like that, five-setter. So the battle was great. It was no different this year from the previous two years in terms of, you know, fighting from both sides. The only difference was that the fifth set went completely my way. But, again, it was a tight first opening game of the fifth set where he had some breakpoint opportunities, missed an easy ball. Yeah, I mean, a couple points decide a winner in these particular matches when you’re playing for Grand Slam final. I can say I’m glad, of course I’m happy and satisfied to go through. I’m proud of the fighting spirit that I had. But the level of performance was not where I wanted it to be.

Q. When Jim Courier spoke to you after the match he asked you if you had any physical issues, but then you sort of talked tactics.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yes, in terms of I think it was more mental in a way because once you back up and start playing defensively you spend a lot of energy. He was the one that was dictating the rallies. There’s no question about it. Some points of the match I did struggle physically to recover for the next one because I run a lot and he was getting a lot of balls back in play. I didn’t have many free points on the first serve as I did throughout the tournament, so that was a significant change. But, you know, nothing that will worry me. You know, I’m sure that I’ll be fit and ready for finals.

Q. Is it hard to keep your concentration and positivity when the level of play is much below where you want it to be?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Of course. You know, you have days when things aren’t going your way. I thought first set was pretty solid; second set not so much. The third, again, I had my moments and made a break in the fourth. I felt like I had him on the ropes, and I thought that this is the moment where I need to step in and capitalize on the opportunities and consolidate the break, but I haven’t. I made the break and 2-Love in the first, lost my serve again right away. Had love-40 the next game. Haven’t used those opportunities, and he was back in the match. This is what happens if you’re not using your opportunities one, two, three, four. The player like Stan with the immense quality that he has and power in his game will get the best out of you. That’s why that match went to the fifth set. After that I thought the crucial turning point in the fifth set was opening few games, two, three games. That’s when I felt a little bit more relaxed and not as pressured from his side.

Q. Did you feel different coming into this with how classic and epic the last two matches were, knowing you had to live up to that standard?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yeah, well, I’m sure everybody who came to watch the match live and watched it on TV were expecting a five-set match. It’s what we delivered for them. Of course, it was not intentional from our side to play five sets, I’m sure. But, again, very, very few details, very few points, very few shots can decide a winner of these matches. That’s what happened tonight.

Q. You said the crucial moment was the first games of the fifth set. When he had a breakpoint on the first game of the fifth set, what was going through your mind? Were you really worried?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I was playing on the side that is against the wind, so it was harder to play on that side. It was a long game. He missed one backhand that was not difficult for him to make, but he missed it on the breakpoint. I was just hoping and trying to stay in the moment and focus on the next point and trying to win that game. I knew that if I do hold my serve that it’s going to give me a lot of confidence for the rest of the set. That’s what happened.

Q. Where do you feel you are after this match going into the final?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I think I have much more positive things to reflect on in my game and then all the matches that I played so far in the tournament than the negative. I’m in the finals. In the end of the day, that’s why I’m here, you know, to try to get far in the tournament. Getting to the finals in any way possible is a great achievement. I’m going to try to use that for build up of the confidence for finals.

Q. The contrasting records at finals here between you and Andy – you can’t lose one, 4-0; he’s a three-time runner-up – mentally for you, is that an advantage for you?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: He’s been playing some great tennis these couple weeks. From my side, it’s going to be necessary to perform at my best and play the best match of the tournament if I want to win. Obviously it’s finals. There’s no clear favorite. But as you mentioned, the record I have in finals against him here in Australia, we played couple times, can serve maybe as a slight mental edge. But not much. I don’t think he’s going to feel that on the court. I’m sure he’s going to be very motivated to win his first title here. I’m going to, of course, give my best that that doesn’t happen.

Q. Andy was clearly struggling at the O2 arena towards the end of last season. Have you noticed or been impressed by how he’s sort of turned that around?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: It’s not the first time in his career that he’s turning things around this way. He had in last five years periods where, you know, maybe he goes through half of the season where he just doesn’t feel well, he doesn’t make any significant results for his standards, and then he gets to the finals of a Grand Slam or he wins a Grand Slam. Of course, people do expect a lot from him because he is a top player, a Grand Slam winner, an Olympic gold medalist. We all know he has the quality in his game. It’s not a huge surprise, honestly, to see him in the finals. But you’re right, looking at where he was at the O2 and his game at the end of 2014 season, maybe people were not giving him such a great chances to get to the finals. But to me it’s not a huge surprise because I know what his qualities are, you know, what he can play and what he can deliver.

Q. You go back 15 years. Are you happy to see Andy back in the Grand Slam final?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Sure. He deserves to be there. With the game that he has, he has a winning mindset. He’s a great fighter, great competitor, and somebody that commits to this sport. You can see that on a daily basis. He has a great team of people around him. He puts a lot of hours in the practice, gym, so forth. It pays off. I know him for a long time, so it’s great we are able to challenge each other now in another Grand Slam final.

Q. You have a special rivalry with Rafa; another one with Roger. What is the special part with Andy?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: The fact we know each other since 11, 12. There is only week difference between us. Very similar game and very similar role to professional tennis. So I think that’s what makes it very special.

Q. Do you still have problems with his accent?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: No. His accent is fine. He spends a lot of time in London. I know he lives there. He’s trying to talk very clear and slow to everybody. I thank him. He’s got couple of guys around — we have a very good relationship, my team and his team, so we always joke around. There was a physiotherapist from Scotland that was with him I think a couple years ago. It was very hard to understand what he was saying. But his accent is absolutely fine. He speaks very clear.

Q. After tonight Wawrinka drops down to No. 9 in the rankings. For the first time since 2013, July, the fab four are back, the top four. Are you surprised about that? Would you believe that could happen?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, of course, there was naturally a lot of talks about the change of generation, new players coming in with Wawrinka and Cilic winning Grand Slams last year, that the four guys that you’re referring to will not be the top four anymore. But it’s the case, as you mention now, again. So I still think that the four guys still have the best chances to win all the Grand Slam titles. Even though we had the two different Grand Slam winners last year, those are the top four favorites. Then you have the other guys. But, of course, men’s tennis is in a different place than it was a few years ago. Now we have Cilic, Wawrinka, youngsters Nishikori, Raonic, Dimitrov, that are showing their qualities and are able to challenge the best players in the world.

Q. Stan said going into this match he already knew he was mentally dead. Did you have any indication from your side going in that maybe you weren’t going to be able to bring your best level?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, he didn’t seem too mentally dead to me on the court. He was playing some great tennis, especially in the second and fourth set. But I guess he knows what he’s talking. Of course, it’s not easy for him to face these kind of circumstances of being defending champion. There’s a lot of pressure, a lot of points to defend. As this gentleman mentioned, he’s going to drop to No. 9 in the world. It’s a significant drop for rankings. Many things change in terms of that drop. So, you know, that’s a valuable experience for him. But, again, it was semifinals of a Grand Slam. Once you’re on the court, you really forget about being exhausted or, you know, sick or something like this. You know, you just want to give your best, and that’s what I think he did.

Q. You’ve won seven of the last eight against Andy. Does that mean you’ve figured out the perfect way to play him?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, there is not much predictable scenarios in our matchup. I think we know each other pretty well. We practice a lot. We play many matches against each other on different surfaces, especially in this arena a few times in the finals. I’m sure we both know what to expect from each other’s game. The fact that I won last seven out of eight matches, of course it’s going to serve as a great confidence booster coming into the match. As I mentioned before, there’s no clear favorite. I think the way he’s been playing, he already knows what it takes to win a Grand Slam title. On the other hand, I’m going to try to use also my own experience and of course motivation to eventually get my hands on the title as well.

Q. I don’t know how much you’ve watched Andy this year, but if you have watched some of him, what do you think has changed in his game since last season?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I think he’s going for the shots. He’s one of the best defenders in the game, no question about it. He is an incredible counter-puncher. He’s got a lot of variety in his game. He’s got also a big serve. I think if he serves well, that’s a huge, let’s say, confidence boost and advantage for him. He feels that he’s more relaxed on the court and he can swing through his shots from the baseline. I think forehand has improved, judging by the matches he has played the matches during these couple weeks compared to a few months ago. The courts are playing a little bit faster in the last two years than it was the previous years in Rod Laver Arena as we mentioned before. Because they are faster, because the ball is bouncing a bit lower, that’s pretty suitable to his style of the game. He likes that. He has a flat backhand and moves around the court pretty well. So it’s going to be a very physical match, no doubt about that. It’s finals, so I’m sure that we both are going to go out and give our best.

Q. Does Stan have the best dropshots in the tour?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: No (smiling).

Q. You won your first Grand Slam title here. Now you’re nearly about to win your fifth. Tell us what this would mean.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: It would mean everything, of course. Getting to the finals is already a great achievement, as I mentioned before. But now this is the match for which you have worked for now two months. This is where you want to be. This is why you put all these hours on and off the court, trying to get yourself in a position to win Grand Slam trophy, because that’s what matters the most. I’m going to give my best, of course.

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36 Comments for Novak Djokovic Presser: My Level Of Performance Against Stan Was Not Where I Wanted It To Be

skeezer Says:

Sorry Murray fans, but Nole seems to have the mental edge here. It’s gonna take a super hero effort from Andy to win this one. Hope its a cracker.

abuya Says:

Hard luck stan…

SG1 Says:

Murray has the tools to beat Novak. I’d even say that their mental fortitudes are similar. I just think Andy’s going to be the hungrier player. He hasn’t tasted a slam win in quite a while and I think he wants to be part of that Fab 4 discussion again (…maybe Fab 2 or 3).

Novak seems to have these inexplicable losses of concentration. Murray is a such a good returner that he can make Novak pay for it better than anyone other than an in-form Rafa.

Brando Says:

‘I’d even say that their mental fortitudes are similar.’:

Love Muzza but no way is he on the same mental level as Novak. No chance!

Game wise I can make a case for Andy, physically also maybe but on a mental level:

Throughout both their careers the tougher nut is clearer to see.

A good way of gauging their strength of character is seeing how they fare against the big 2 of this era:


The record clearly shows which one challenged those 2 most consistently, on the big stage. And it takes more than Tennis skills to do that so, whilst I love Muzza, mentally Novak is the clear winner between the 2. No contest.

RZ Says:

I hope we see more matches between Wawrinka and Djokovic. Even last night when Wawrinka was mentally spent and Djokovic wasn’t playing his best, they still had a tight match (except the last set). Good match up for close matches.

RZ Says:

I think people are underestimating Andy’s mental fortitude. Consider the incredible pressure he was under to win Wimbledon (“77 years…”), and how much more that pressure grew as he made the final there as well as other grand slam finals and lost. Yet despite all that he did win Wimbledon. And he now has the incredible pressure to prove he is back, that his back injury is behind him, and most importantly that he made the right call by hiring and sticking with Amelie Mauresmo. But he is back in the final. Win or lose, I don’t think it will be because of the mental side of his game.

Okiegal Says:

My heart wants to say Andy, but my head says Novak. IF Andy can keep his head when everything else is falling apart around him, he has a chance. His return game will have to be impeccable. He does have the tools but he has to keep things together in his head. I think that is one of his major probs. Oh, how I would love to see him win this. I will add, his mind set is so much better than it used to be. C’mon Andy!! It’s gonna take lots of and grit, and you’ve got that!!

skeezer Says:

I don’t underestimate Andy’s mental fortitude. Just think Nole, for tomorrow, is going to think it out a little better. The next time they meet it may be different. Could be wrong in my assumption, and hope Andy gives his fans his best performance ever.
BTW at this level, it’s mostly mental.

Margot Says:

Andy playing freely and without pain probably for the first time in what two years? Did you read what he said after finishing the quarters this year as opposed to last? Andy realising that his back really is OK at last?. Andy happy with his team for what a year? Andy relaxed and focused, pleased with the way he’s playing and mentally as tough as he was 2012/13 but without the weight of 77 years.
Bring it on.

And a delightful interview with Amelie for Andy fans.

courbon Says:

Maybe we will have a ‘Mirka ‘ moment during the match? Kim seems to be dirty talking girl, so if she shouts ‘Cry baby…’ or ‘ F**k Serb’ Novak gets distracted and losses???Who knows…

brando Says:

“BTW at this level, it’s mostly mental.”: I’ll vamos to that! :-) lol in all seriousness: your talent will help you create the opportunities, but its your strength of character, capacity to produce your best in the toughest moments that determines how successful you will be and how great you really are as a player. Fed has it, rafa has it, pete had it. between these 2: historically Novak has the edge for sure. And a very, very telling thing post their semi final is their reaction: Andy Murray= I am so proud to reach my 4th AO final. Novak Djokovic= I will be ready for the final since this is what it’s all about. Nothing wrong with either but to me: one seems possibly satisfied already. The others seems hungry for more and focused. I think it’s a telling mental thing between these 2, and a clear example of why Novak is stronger. His hunger, ambition, desire is greater. Always has been. Period.

brando Says:

@courbon: lmfao, wonder what Boris Becker would do if he hears it though? Boom Boom might serve up a response of his own, lol.

Ben Pronin Says:

Funny, I interpreted Djokovic’s comments as he’s happy with his achievement and would be a-ok with Murray winning since they’re good buddies and blah blah blah.

Mental thing is nonsense. It’s all about who plays better.

Margot Says:

@ Ben

Humble Rafa Says:

I think Ms. Scottwoman has more class than Mrs. Arrogant One.

courbon Says:

@ Brando: So far Boris has been very reserved and cool in a way.No stupid comments, no drama…I personally like him and I think he is doing good job with Novak.I don’t buy in to that ‘ boris is there to help Novak mentaly’ because that is largely up to the player.But I like how Novak is improving his net play and serve under Boris…
Good luck on sunday with Andy ( its your second favorite, right? )

@HR:I though you would call her Lady of the Lady Forehand not Scottwoman….If I have to choose one tennis Wag, Xisca would be my choice!

skeezer Says:

So holding back on your FH is not mental or dunking into the net? Double faulting is not mental? Must play better, and you win? Sure, but how do you that? The mind tells the body what to do. What does the mind tell the body, just play better? You’ll wind up tieing up your strokes into mass unforced errors with that kind of stuff. You know you have to play well, play better, but how?
These guys at this level have great shot making abilities from most all angles, they can execute in practice with no thinking what so ever. Mindless repetition. But when you are in a match like this, you need all the mental skills you can muster, you need to outhink the strategy of your opponet. Mental? I have seen guys win plenty of times who have a lessor game beat another guy who thinks he “plays better”. Nonesense.

brando Says:

^lol this!

brando Says:

@courbon: great post and completely agree. The mental aspect-as in life- really is only something you as a individual can solve, hold the answer to. I know I have knocked Novak on this front, but I ultimately think: whilst he’s not as mentally solid as fedal, pistol pete (probably laver, borg back in the day) he’s definitely strong.he’s maybe lacked that 5% at times but as probably the most toughest, mentally strong player Rafael Nadal said the otherday: with time passing you age, and with ageing you start to think more, engage in paralysis of analysis, doubt creeps in becomes all of a sudden these matches maybe your last and all of that can make you collapse a bit mentally: inshort it’s a human thing. So all in all: his issue is very understandable, natural and barring fedal, sampras he’s dealt with it better than nearly all the rest in the modern era. Re Muzza: yes he’s my 2nd favourite and I will root for him passionately to win when it comes to it but I gotta be honest: I don’t see him winning. I just think Novak is beast, a lion at AO similar to Nadal at RG and really it takes a lion to take down a lion in his backyard: I’m not sure Andy has the mental strength to pull it off. Game wise? Barring 2nd serve he’s right there with Novak at his best as a player. But mentally? There’s a clear gap. I think there will be nervous moments, crucial, high anxiety moments that shall determine the match and I just see Novak handling it better than Andy. I can see him changing the direction of the match better than Andy if it was not going in the desired way for a player. 3 sets off Novak at AO is a tough ask.

Humble Rafa Says:

That’s Skeeze the philosopher talking. He gets into this mood sometimes.

Kimberly Says:

from what I saw of the djokovic wawrinka match was really low quality. lots and lots of unforced errors caused by nerves. If djokovic shows up and plays that game against murray he will lose. if he plays regular good hard court game, I think he will win a close match, possibly in 3 or 4 sets 3 set score maybe 6-4 7-6 7-6 or 4 set score maybe 6-7 6-2 7-6 6-4. But if he plays like he plays against wawrinka he will go down in straights not close. 6-2 6-2 6-3

Okiegal Says:

Novak is a hoss, no doubt about it. Hasn’t he wore the name Chokovic in the past?? Choking not a mental thing?? Well, whatever………I could be wrong…..

jane Says:

well, after the horror of staying up until 4:30 am and watching nole lose lead after lead, not to mention play a set without ONE winner, i nevertheless feel strangely proud of him today.

he won ugly, but he showed his spirit in doing so, as he often does. he came through to give himself another shot at a slam title. he certainly doesn’t have the best record in slam finals, and that’s hard to take for us nole fans (right guys?), but he rarely shies away from the challenge or fails to fight for the chance to win one. his chances against rafa at roland garros are never good, but he fights for the chance to play him there every year. and he has now, what? 5 times? 6?

his consistent record in reaching the late stages of slams speaks for itself. he hasn’t lost before the quarterfinals since the french in 2009, and he’s not missed one either, knock on wood. i know people say it’s the win that counts, and that’s true, but getting there, giving himself the shot, is important too.

all that said, i don’t really like his chances in the final, specifically based on what i saw last night, and given what some say about the court playing faster with lower bounce, but win or lose on sunday, nole’s gained points and reached another slam final. ajde nole!

Daniel Says:

Djoko can at least take comfort that he finish the match the best possible way, almost flawless fifth set with his stats improving and knowing that deep down, he wore Wawa out. In worst case he knows he can grind a win in this courts, hence he only lost 1 match and that 7-9 fifth set in last 5 years.

Maybe Andy has something to say about it, but to me Djoko still is the favorite on Sunday, 4 sets win. He is the man to beat.

Wog Boy Says:

This man knows tennis:

jane Says:

funny for andy or nole fans; what a pair of eccentrics! :)

Wog Boy Says:

Nole wasn’t there for two and half sets, he switched on automatic pilot and played until he went back to manuel control. He didn’t even know that he won third set!!
I think, deep in his mind he thought that he has to play five sets with Stan, mental pressure was just to big and sucked all his energy out of him, even Jim Courier just couldn’t believe how Nole looked tired for such a long period, he never saw him like that, neither me.
But great champions win even when they don’t play their best, that is why they are great, Nole is one of them.

calmdownplease Says:

Jane and WB

check this out, scroll down, it features you know who;

disclaimer; I got this from twitter I haven’t ever read the mirror or the sun etc.

Steve27 Says:

What a horrible match!

See a Wawrinka Djokovic match in Australia It is like the relationship between the protagonists of fifty shades of gray. A kind of domination / submission, sadism / masochism. Peculiar though. The three games between them were like that and Wawrinka lost the games that should have won.

Steve27 Says:

Mental thing is nonsense. It’s all about who plays better.

Nonsense is your commentary. Mental thing is even more important than skills and talent like your beloved and overrated Dimitrov.
After the break in the fifht set, Wawrinka, the better player of the match implode and the match was finished.

And Djokovic the baseline defender take the match with his much superior mental strength.

Nadal, Borg, Sampras, Connors and even Federer are the best in this facet.

Nicholas Maury Says:

She’s had it easy throughout the tournament…. Let’s see if she still got what it takes to maintain her Throne..

Margot Says:

Re info from papers you don’t read….Hadn’t clocked their H2H in Slams is 2:2
#cheeredup ;)

KatH Says:

Re. Andy v Nole – Andy has more variety in his game but will he be able to use it against Nole.
There lies the rub.

Michael Says:

I feel that Andy can pull it off even only he can lay off the demons of losing those three finals at this venue. He has the wonderful game, the sheer variety, the stamp of class that is needed to become a Champion. He has shown two times in the past that he can seize the moment even if it is against Novak and it was only those times he won whenever he faced him. At Wimbledon 2013, what an impeccable Tennis he played against Novak truly outclassing him. He has to produce similar kind of form here tomorrow to get his nose in front and make Novak disbelieve his chances in his favourite venue. Not an easy task, but a player like Andy can do it. For that, it is crucial that he has a head start by winning the first set and that will set the right platform for the rest of the match.

Michael Says:

I am only much surprised as to how this match of Novak Vs Wawarinka extended to five sets ? Watching this match, it was just difficult to tell as to who was playing worse ?

calmdownplease Says:

did you see the ad with Novak and Andy?
Im not seeing any Oscars in their future, lets put it that way…

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