Novak Djokovic US Open Interview - September 6

Posted on September 7, 2007


September 6, 2007

Novak Djokovic


THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. It was a pretty gutsy second serve when you had set point in the tiebreak. What made you decide to do that?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, you got to take a risk, you know, in the matches like this, in situations like that. When you play experienced player like Moya, if you want to have a positive outcome you have to take risk. I decided to do that.
And obviously I surprised him with that fast serve and I had luck afterwards. I played some good points in the tiebreak. I was a bit lucky and obviously that was the turning point in the match.

Q. That was a great performance out there.

Q. In addition to the tennis I mean.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Oh, okay. I was just waiting.

Q. You've been granted tonight an outlet to not only show your tennis talent but your personality as well.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: They made me do it.

Q. I know, but you didn't look too reluctant. You seemed to embrace the opportunity. What does it mean to you to be able to go out there and entertain as a tennis player and show a little personality, too?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I enjoy it. I'm really happy that the people accept it in a positive way. I'm not trying to make fun of Maria or Rafa or anybody else. Just trying to make the people laugh and have a good time, you know, trying to enjoy the tennis on the court and off the court as well.
Hopefully it's going to be my life for next ten, fifteen years. So you're gonna do all the same things, you know, get to the same cities, same tournaments and, you know, you got to look at the positive side of everything.
This is just some of the things, you know, I usually do to make the people laugh.

Q. Carlos said he saw a little bit of it, and he said you just might have a great second career. There's so much conversation about you rising up and being part of the conversation of Nadal and Federer. But also considering the personality that you bring, you know, do you in a way look at yourself as, you know, possibly what tennis needs?

Q. I mean, Andre was a great personality. John was a great personality. Some people say tennis has lacked a great personality. But you need the personality and the game to go with it, and you may be that guy.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yeah, obviously the people are looking for that. They're looking for a good tennis player and a player with a lot of emotions and a lot of temperament and personality.
I'm really happy that the people are looking at me in that way and are talking positive things about me. Of course, not only positive, but most of them positive, which is a nice thing to hear and very flattering. It's just of course motivation more for the future.
So my goal is to be No. 1 player of the world. I've been working for that all my life. And still I'm just 20, so I have a lot of time left. And of course priority is to play tennis, and the rest of the things are coming naturally.

Q. When you were a little kid back home, watching tennis on television, were you imitating people even then?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, a little bit. Because I was maybe ten years old. My probably lifetime idol was Sampras, so I was trying to -- I started with the one-handed backhand. I was playing it for a year. I tried to play like him, but then I changed to two hands because I was really nervous at practice because I doesn't have strength. I was very skinny and small, little player, and I didn't have any strength for playing one hand. So that's why I decided to play with two hands.
I tried to take all the best things from every player. From Pete I took, I was saying that I want to have a serve like him and, you know, a kind of focus like he does on the court. From Agassi I wanted to have the return. Up, from Edberg I wanted to have the volleys. So I was always trying to make the perfect situation. But, you know, Sampras has been my idol.

Q. So obviously you're really a keen, humorous observer: With Nadal it's the tugging at the pants and with Sharapova I'd say it's the ball bouncing. Let's get down to the basics. I'll read off a name, and you tell me the humor element that you love to imitate: John McEnroe?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, it's a pretty long question there. Well, McEnroe, I don't know, I mean, everybody knows that he has a great personality. So I didn't try to do the impersonation of him, but, of course, as I said, this is a thing I'm trying to do and enjoy, to do something else and just keep my focus a little bit off the tennis, because you need to be -- tennis requires a lot of concentration and time on the court, a lot of time at tournaments.
So this is one of the ways I really like it relax, to smile, and that's all.

Q. How do the players feel? Like Nadal, has he come up to you, or Roddick, I know you do him, Maria, have they made any comments to you about impersonations?

Q. And?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I'll keep that is as secret.

Q. They're not mad about it? They're not offended?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: No. Everybody accepts it positively.

Q. Does anybody do you, your bouncing the ball?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Roddick. Roddick was doing it a couple times when we practice in Wimbledon and here in the US Open when I first came. So he was trying to imitate me because he was annoyed by me imitating him.

Q. Is there anyone who has been really hard to capture, their mannerisms?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, the untouchable one, Roger. Well, he's too perfect for my style. I cannot. Plus, I don't have a long hair.
I hope he doesn't hear this.

Q. Back to the tennis match. You had some difficulty early on tonight with Moya's backhand down the line, or going a little bit wide. What sort of trouble was he giving you?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, we played in very difficult conditions today; it was a lot of wind. So obviously one of the most important things today was to try to be focused all the time, and play every point, because if you are not playing every point with an experienced player like Carlos is, then he's going use his chances and get control over the match.
So yes, I had a couple of really crazy mistakes and bad mistakes, but it's a part of the match. Of course you have always ups and downs. You cannot play all the time at same level like Roger. But, you know, that's what we're all trying to do.

Q. And slice backhands, he gave you a lot slice backhands with no pace. Why was that difficult for you?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I knew he was going play a lot of slice because he's trying to change the pace, and obviously I'm not using that slice too much, and that's what I need to work on in the future. You know, he was trying to keep me off balance and not give me any rhythm, which he was doing in the last couple matches we played. He was doing it pretty well today. You know, I managed to put away all the negative thoughts from the matches in the past when we played against each other. I used it against him.
I'm happy with the performance. I was pretty aggressive, and I served really well in the most important moments.

Q. Did you feel like you've brought out your best level at this tournament yet?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: It's difficult to say. I had ups and downs during all the tournament. I had a lot of expectations before the start of the tournament, and everybody's predicting for me that I'm going to be in the semifinals or whatever. You know, already talking that I'm going play a match against Rafa or whatever. So it was a lot of pressure. So I had to deal with it, and that caused a little bit, you know, negative thoughts, and I was a bit nervous in the first two matches.
You know, luckily, I did not get to play Ancic in the first round, and then I had the second round which was a breakthrough. After that I was motivated.
And I think, you know, last three rounds I played pretty well. I was happy that I could get the chance to play on the Ashe. Now I have already three matches there. So I got used to the court. You know, the atmosphere, the crowd and it's -- I like it. I enjoy it.

Q. What do you expect from your next game from David?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, he's a great competitor. Obviously he's performing his best tennis this year. He had an impressive year, especially here in US Open he's been playing some great tennis. He beat Nadal, so he plays every point, you know, he's running and he doesn't give you a lot of unforced errors, so you've got to earn every point if you want to be in control of the match.
So that's what I'm going to try to do. I'm going to try to be aggressive and patient at the same time. We'll see what happens. It's a semifinal of a Grand Slam. I'm going to be a favorite in that match, looking at the stats, you know, everything, the rankings. But I think everything is open and anything can happen.

Q. Is it a relief to know that Rafa is going to be there waiting for you?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, a little bit. Rafa is the No. 2 player of the world already three years. And he's probably playing the best tennis in the end of the tournaments. In the Grand Slams he's always, you know, giving hard time everybody, running around and you have to play every point with him 100%, especially on clay.
So it's a kind of relief that I'm not playing him. But on the other hand playing a guy who's maybe running more than him is even bigger competitor. He won against Rafa playing his style of the game basically: Running around, a lot of long points.
So it's going to be difficult.

Q. As for reaching the semis at Wimbledon and Roland Garros is getting the semis here a success or do you need to get to the finals or win this tournament to be considered a success for you?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Ideally, well, yes. As I was saying before, this has been best seven, eight months of my career and I'm really enjoying it and working hard. I think that I worked really hard this year in preparation period, especially before the start of the season. Work is playing off.
I'm playing some great tennis and I'm performing well and getting great results. Hopefully this time I can get a step further. I had to stop the last two Grand Slams in the semifinal. Semifinal in Wimbledon was really not so nice. Not a nice way to finish, you know, I had to retire.
But now it's a different situation. I'm going to be favorite for the first time in a Grand Slam semifinal. So I hope for the best.

Q. Did you have to reach a certain ranking before you could really make fun of other players? Because when you first came on tour and you're just a young punk...
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I was like a mouse.

Q. Have you been doing the impersonations even before you were on top of the game?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I did it for close friends but not publically. If I did it publically, people would look at me, probably idiot. Who's this guy?
But, yeah, the people, it's -- as soon as you make a better results and your ranking is better and better and you're No. 3 in the world, obviously you're attracting more crowds for your practice or even for your matches. So they're watching every step you make, and if I make something like this, you know, it has a positive impact on them.

Q. Continuing the serious discussion here, who are the two or three funniest players that you've encountered in your tennis years?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: You're really pushing that funny.

Q. Yeah. I'm doing a story on it.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, the funniest, it's tough to say. I was really laughing every time I saw John McEnroe. He had this argument with the chair umpires all the time, basically every match. So it was very funny for me to see that because it was not usual, you know, that the player has so much arguing with the chair umpires.
More or less besides him it was Jimmy Connors, who was very funny, and just couple guys from the past. But I don't know. I cannot come up. I don't know.

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