Novak Djokovic captured his sixth Australian Open and 11th overall Grand Slam Sunday night beating friend and rival Andy Murray 61, 75, 76(3).
Djokovic has now won five of the last seven Slams including the last three as he approaches Rafael Nadal’s total of 14 and Roger Federer’s all-time mark of 17. And he’s just 28.
Djokovic remains far and away on top of tennis having now won his last 21 in Grand Slam with few, if any, challengers. And he already has convincing wins this season over Federer, Nadal and Murray.
After the win, Djokovic met the press to discuss his win and the possibility of a fourth straight crown and completion of a career Slam at the French Open.
Q. What do you think made the difference tonight against Andy?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I think I started the match very well, as I started in semifinals versus Roger, with not many things I’ve done wrong. Actually I was very aggressive and just played the way I wanted to play against him, and executed the game plan perfectly for a set and a half.
I made a break in the second. I felt he was pretty neutral from the back of the court and was allowing me to take a charge and control over the rallies. I had more time.
Then he started serving better. He came back to the match. The second set was decided in a few points, as it was the third. I thought I maybe could have done better in my service games when I was up a break both sets, second and third, but credit to him for fighting and showing why he’s one of the best in the world.
He definitely made me work. There were a lot of long rallies, long exchanges. We were both breathing heavily towards the end of the second and the third set. But that’s what you expect.
As I was saying, I knew coming into the match against Andy I’m going to have to be patient and construct the point. Obviously trying to be the one to take the first initiative and be more aggressive.
It wasn’t possible at all times because he would change up the tactics and he was playing better in the third, but just the big points I managed to find a way.
Q. Is that the biggest reception you’ve gotten from the fans outside Rod Laver Arena?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yes.
Q. What was that like as you were trying to do TV?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: It was amazing. I honestly did not expect that. I did not know what was waiting. Many of these fans didn’t have a ticket and chance to watch the match on the stadium, so they stayed on the main square. They waited for me. I’m very grateful for their support. It’s quite incredible. I don’t take it for granted obviously.
I’ve had that fortune to win this trophy now for six times, but I never experienced such a support after the match.
Q. Do you know who they were? Were they Serbian ex-patriots from Melbourne?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I could not identify everybody that was out there (smiling).
But from the point of view of above, I’ve seen, yes, a lot of Serbian flags. Many of them live here. Some of them came from our country. It’s great that they came out in big numbers and showed their support in such a big occasion, such a big match for me.
Q. I was talking with one of the Serbian fans. He said if you ran for president, everybody in Serbia would vote for you. Do you have any plans politically?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: No. I’m an athlete. I think I should stick with that.
Q. Is there particular significance in this one for you for any reason?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Of course. I mean, every Grand Slam title is very significant in its own way. Here, because of the fact that I managed to make history tonight and equal Roy Emerson’s six Australian Open titles. Very honored to be mentioned alongside legends of our sport by Bjorn Borg, Rod Laver, win as many Grand Slams as they did.
You know, I can’t lie and say I didn’t think about it. Of course it was in back of my mind. Coming into the court I knew that I have a chance to make the history. Of course it served as a great motivation, as a great imperative to play my best.
I tried not to think about it too much, but it was there as an encouragement, as a positive feedback, and a goal.
Q. Do you have to pinch yourself, six Australian Open titles, 11 Grand Slams?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Everybody is holding a champagne glass here. This is a very formal press conference (laughter). All smiles when champagne is around.
Well, look, as I said, it’s a great honor. I don’t take anything for granted, even though I won last four out of five Grand Slams, played five finals out of five Grand Slams last that I played.
It’s phenomenal. I’m very proud of it, as is my team. We worked very hard to be in this position, and we should enjoy it. We should cherish every moment that we get to experience now because these are the tournaments that we all value, that we all want to play well on.
No doubt that I’m playing the best tennis of my life in last 15 months. You know, everything is going well privately, as well. I became a father and husband, have a family, so I feel like I’m at the point in my life where everything is working in harmony.
I’ll try to keep it that way.
Q. What are the two or three things that have been at the core of this incredible rise and success? What has been the key in your mind?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I can’t pick one thing and say that was the secret of success, even though I know people would like to know or get something out of me that would explain this. But it’s not that easy. If it’s that easy and simple and say one or two things, then I think many people would do it.
It’s actually many years of obviously commitment, hard work, sacrifice and dedication, not just to training sessions, you know, the things that you are obliged to do as a tennis player, but also to a lifestyle. Trying to devote most of your time, energy, thought to make yourself the best person and the best player possible.
There’s something I’ve found out in the previous years in my career is that you can’t separate yourself professionally and privately. You’re the same person. So all this emotions that are maybe trapped, you know, that occur in your private life, the issues, the problems that we all face, you need to surface them. You need to find a solution. You need to face, encounter these particular issues privately in order to maximize your potential as a player, as well.
In the end of the day, in these particular matches when it goes down to very few points, when you’re challenged in every aspect of your being, if there is something under the surface, it will come out and it will play against you. It will be your worst enemy.
I mean, I’m just speaking out very frank now out of my own experience. Of course, everybody’s different. This is not a formula for everybody’s success. I’m just saying it’s something that helped me to understand how to get better and how to evolve.
Q. It’s the first month of the year. You’ve already had convincing wins over your three biggest rivals in your career. Do you allow yourself in your mind to acknowledge that perhaps you’ve separated yourself from them a bit at the moment?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I don’t want to allow myself to be in that frame of mind. Because if I do, the person becomes too arrogant and thinks that he’s a higher being or better than everybody else. You can get a big slap from karma very soon. I don’t want that.
I try to, you know, still follow the same kind of lifestyle and routine, you know, things that I’ve been doing all these years that have been helping me to get to where I am. I know being humble and being discreetly — still of course satisfied and proud of what you’ve achieved, but discreetly doing that.
Of course staying respectful to all my opponents and my colleagues and to this sport is a key to continue on and maintain this level of success and performance. I hope. This is kind of approach to help me to get to where I am. I don’t want to step away from it.
Q. What has changed in your game? Last year in Monte-Carlo you were always losing or almost losing the first set. This year you won 6-1 against Nadal in Doha in 30 minutes; 6-1 in Federer in 24 minutes; tonight, 6-1 first set again in 30 minutes.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: It would be great if tennis was played in only one set (smiling). I don’t know.
Of course it was very pleasing to play the way I played against all these guys. Well, against Nadal it was the best-of-three sets, but here best-of-five. I played amazing first two sets against Roger, then I lost the third, and it was very close in the fourth.
In the Grand Slams you can’t allow yourself to be, you know, playing well for first couple sets and then just lose the focus. This match could have gone to five sets. Could have happened.
I think the experience of playing so many matches against these guys, being on the big stage, knowing what’s at stake, knowing the importance and value of these tournaments and fighting for the trophy, I think that helps.
And the fact that I want to improve as everybody else. I’m not here because I played the same tennis I played last year. I feel like I’m playing better. I always strive to improve not just the game or technically, tactically, but also mentally.
Q. Different approach?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I’ve heard actually one nice – how do you call it – metaphor yesterday. It’s much easier for the wolf that is going uphill and running up the mountain — not easier, but he was hungrier than the wolf standing on the hill.
You can observe it from different sides, but, you know, I believe that all the guys that are out there fighting each week to get to No. 1 are very hungry to get to No. 1, and I know that.
I can’t allow myself to relax and enjoy. I mean, I can. Of course I want to enjoy, and I will, but it’s not going to go more than few days. After that I already thinking about how can I continue on playing well throughout the rest of the season each tournament.
Kind of a mindset that one needs to have if one wants to stay up there. ‘Cause I think you need to work double as hard when you’re up there.
Q. Can you explain why you never lose the final of Australia whenever you reach here? Something special with this tournament and you.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, it is. That’s why I kissed the court. I’ve had a love affair with Rod Laver Arena for many years and I hope it can last a long time.
Q. How much is a wolf hungry for Paris?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Very hungry. But wolf needs to eat a lot of different meals to get to Paris. Paris is a dessert.
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