Novak Djokovic Interview - Jan 27Posted on January 27, 2008
Q. How does it feel to be a Grand Slam champion?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: It's probably undescribable feeling, something that I always dreamed of, of course. I think every player dreams about winning a Grand Slam, whatever.
And, you know, it's something special. It's a special event. It's two weeks long, all the best players in the world playing. Then you come up in the end as a champion, you know, only one guy to win the tournament. I mean, I'm still not aware of the big achievement I have had in these two weeks.
I'm very proud of myself, of course. And, of course, the support of my family and everybody who's been with me in these two weeks has been very important to me. So right now I feel kind of relieved because I've played at least the semifinals in every Grand Slam in last year, and I was pretty close in US Open.
So probably today I was a bit nervous on the start 'cause I found myself in the strange situation: that I am the favorite in the finals of a Grand Slam, which is not usual for me.
So it was dangerous, but I managed to cope with the pressure well and to win.
Q. You said the other day you thought this could be kind of the changing of the guard. Do you feel that now with you and Jo‑Wilfried coming through?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I knew that he's going to go for the shots, you know. He's playing in the first Grand Slam finals. He's had amazing tournament. Of course, he absolutely deserved to be in that position.
Today was very, very close match, so could go either way, that's for sure. Was just couple of shots, couple of points deciding.
But, you know, still it's my first Grand Slam. I'm very happy for that. I'm gonna take it easy, you know. I'm not gonna try to think about, you know, reaching even higher goals right away. You know, I'm not in the rush.
I want to enjoy in my success and just celebrate with the people I care about. From then, I'll see what it goes.
Q. Do you feel Roger's dominance in the game is finished?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: No, I don't think so, no. I mean, it's not possible that only one tournament is changing the history. Of course, I mean, I played amazing tennis here, so I think I absolutely deserved to win, even against him in the semifinals. You know, he accepted in the right way.
Sure, he's gonna come back in a big style, of course. He's still planning to be the best player in the world, so we all know how good is he. We gonna see a lot of him, of course, this year.
Q. There are such small margins between defeat and victory, and you've tasted both in Grand Slam finals now. What do you think was the special difference today that perhaps just gave you the edge?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I didn't play Roger (smiling).
Well, you know, as I said, it was kind of strange feeling to get into the match as the favorite. As I was saying in the preconference, it's always dangerous to play against the underdog, the player who doesn't have really anything to lose.
He was really aggressive, going for the shots since the start. That's where I really needed to calm down and really try to keep my focus. And obviously playing in a Grand Slam final in US Open gave me a lot of experience which I used today, I think.
In these crucial moments I was being probably more patient and more focused, so I think that's one of the turning points.
Q. As those set points were kind of ganging up on each other at the end of the third set, you really just had to keep your mind as focused as you possibly could.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Exactly. I knew that I'm playing against a big server, and I have to wait for my chances. And, you know, he started match really well. You could see that in the first set. And he was obviously a better player in that first set.
And then, you know, I just was trying to keep my focus, remain the consistency, the high level of game, try to wait for my opportunities, and then when I get them, you know, I should use them right away, which I did.
And that fourth set was, you know, a little bit strange because we had ups and downs, both of us. We didn't have so much chances on each other's serve. We were holding serve pretty good. But you could see that we were not of moving really well, both of us, that we were really tired.
You know, I asked for the treatment because I was sliding a lot and I felt some soreness in the hamstring. It's all normal, I think. It's mental preparation. Mental strength, I think, plays a big part in this match, especially in this match.
You know, it's a Grand Slam final and you're coming to the match aware of the fact that you're in the finals. And then, you know, you get nervous a little bit. Sometimes in important moments you don't play the way you would like to play.
But it is important. The difference is if you stay focused in the end.
Q. You talked about the nerves a bit. Obviously a bit of a nervous start, breaks of serve and what have you. What did you do today to help occupy your mind, and how nervous were you in the lead‑up to tonight?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I was trying before the match to keep my head off the tennis court and just thoughts on something else. You know, just talking jokes, listening to music, watching funny videos, whatever, just to relax. And I kind of managed to do that.
And then since I got to the court it all changed in two seconds (smiling). When you get to the full stadium, you feel again very proud of yourself because you got to that stage. But, again, you want to win. You know, since you get to the final, you know, final match, you just want to make another step and win it.
So, of course I was nervous and there was pressure, and I think it's understandable. But I'm very happy the way I deal with that pressure.
Q. Is it more pressure than you've ever felt in your life?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I think this is one of the matches, one of the matches where I had most of the pressure. I think so, yes.
Q. So what's on the agenda for tonight then?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: You don't want to know (smiling).
Q. Yeah, I do.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Actually, I'll keep that as a secret because we have special ways of celebrating, so... We'll have a fun night.
Q. Is it a family celebration?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yeah, yeah, family, everybody. I mean, I'm a people guy, so I like to be with...
Q. Six of the last ten winners of the Australian Open have lost the first set. Does it mean anything to you? You didn't say much about your serve. But in the second and third set, you had 10 games when you lost only 10 points on your serve. So that was probably a key, you think?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I think, yeah, yeah. On the first place, well, stats, you know, say that probably the Grand Slam champions are getting into the matches a little bit nervous, so probably that was the case with me today.
But, you know, I'm very happy that I managed to hold on till the end. Serve was ‑‑ it was following me in a great style and giving me a lot of motivation and a lot of confidence I think in these two weeks, and was one of the best elements in my game.
That's very encouraging for the upcoming season, you know, and for the future, because this is something I've been working on a lot lately. I've been trying to work on my consistence with the serve, first‑serve percentage, but at the same time placement.
All these things need time. So I'm pretty surprised with the way I served these two weeks, and I think serve was one of the key factors in my game, even today.
Q. Having played this match as the favorite, does it give you more appreciation for what Federer and Nadal have done, the position they've been in the last couple of years?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, no doubt. I mean, for everybody who wins a Grand Slam, you have to give them a lot of appreciation and respect. I just felt it now, what it feels like. Hopefully, you know, in the future I'm gonna feel it more.
Q. You say you're a people person. Is it very difficult to be playing against somebody who is such a crowd favorite? Second match in a row now.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, this is something that you got to fight against, you know, just try to keep your head in the match. As I said after the match, you know, the crowd was more behind him. In one way, it's okay. You know, it's understandable.
Everybody has a right to decide who they gonna cheer for. He's an attractive player. You know, he's a young one. He's unseeded coming to the finals. Obviously, they wanted to support him.
But I think I had enough support, you know. Even though there was, you know around my box and in my box, all together about 20 or 30 people. I think they were screaming incredibly throughout all the match and really helped me out.
Q. It looks like a particularly heavy trophy. When you went to lift it up, did it seem light or did it seem heavy?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I didn't feel anything at that moment. I didn't make difference about heavy or light or whatever. You know, I just looked at it and looked all those names on it and I thought to myself, Jesus, my name is going to be in that trophy. I was very proud of myself.
Q. Would you like to play the whole year‑round on hard court without having to having to also play on clay?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Probably, yes. I'll speak with the ATP chairman about it to make all the tournaments hard courts (smiling).
No, you know, you have to always ‑‑ one of the goals of every professional tennis player is to try to be consistent with results on any kind of surface, and I think I managed to do that in the last year and a half.
Q. Will it be tough at Roland Garros, you think?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I think I'm going to be more relieved now, even though, you know, coming as a Grand Slam champion, all the tournaments in this season. You know, I feel better now, you know, not with too much pressure.
We'll see. I play my best tennis on the most important events, so it's encouraging thing.
Q. When you were a small boy in a small country ravaged by war, could you imagine a day like this, when you are actually a Grand Slam champion?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I was dreaming of it many times. I was watching a lot of legends in the sport lifting up Grand Slam trophies, so I wished to be in that situation one day. So it's like a dream come true.
Q. Was it a reality or was it just a dream?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I always believed. You know, I always believed. I didn't want to think in a negative way. I always had a big support, especially from my parents, my father. You know, I think he always believed more in me than I did in myself.
With the way I was playing throughout all the junior years and junior events, I think I earned enough confidence and motivation to be a professional tennis player and to be as a Grand Slam champion.
So, you know, for somebody it was not realistic, for somebody, yes. And it was difficult to judge in that time because Serbia doesn't have such a big tennis tradition. Considering all these bad times we had, you know, in the time when I grew up and practicing there. So it was basically impossible if you look in it that way, but I always believed.
Q. Was your family affected by the war?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I wouldn't talk about the war. It's just something that I'll pass.
Q. Can you tell a little bit how you became so good? You mentioned several times the conditions in Serbia weren't very good to be a tennis player.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yeah, well, you know, I think everybody was really surprised with the amount of the players we produced from such a small country with no tennis tradition. So I think it's still unexplainable, because there was no system whatsoever in our country for tennis and we didn't get so much support needed in that stage, mostly needed.
But we always had I can say strong support from our closest, you know, from the parents. And I think this hunger for success and the times and things we went through made us stronger. I think so.
Q. Everybody assumes they might have a bit of an idea of what it is like to actually win a Grand Slam. When you do win a Grand Slam, what's it like?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: You should start playing professionally and maybe you'll get to this stage (smiling).
Well, how can I explain? You know, I'm still not aware of such a success, as I said on the start. You know, sitting here with a Grand Slam trophy beside me, I'm still probably on the court and still with the thoughts on the match and all these two weeks. I don't realize it still.
But I think people in my country will prove it to me bigtime.
Q. Can you relive the match point?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I don't know. I really don't know. I can't remember. I just remember that I fell down and I was relieved and so happy. I even couldn't show my emotions because of the momentum, so it's very difficult to say what I felt.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I see smiles from the Serbian journalists there. It says it all.
Yeah, we still didn't have a Grand Slam champion. Now I don't even realize how big deal this is. I really am overjoyed with the victory and very happy that the people in Serbia appreciate what we have done ‑ not just myself, but everybody.
With that reception, they proved that they have a lot of respect. Even though Ana played finals, me and Jelena, we played semifinals. You know, if you look at it, maybe some players from other country, semifinals, Grand Slam finals, not a big deal. But for us it was a big deal in that moment.
Q. How many people were there?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: About 20,000, I think. Now I don't know. I mean, I was always watching as a kid all the successful professional athletes from our country, let's say basketball, basketball winners, the European World Championship, Olympic medals, water polo, volleyball.
All these guys, when they win something big, they go to this balcony of the government. It's our tradition to have reception, you know, for such a great success. There's always so many people filled up on the streets. You don't even know the numbers.
Maybe I'm gonna have this, as well (smiling).
Q. You're already a celebrity in your country. Grand Slam champion. How do you think you can cope with that celebrity?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, you know, this is something which comes with the success, I think. To be popular and to be celebrity, it is very nice. It's very flattering when the people recognize you on the streets and come up to you saying many words of things and of respect and a lot of positive comments. You have to be proud of yourself, you know.
But it is important to keep the balance always in the life. That's what I'm trying to learn right now, you know, because I am still young and getting into the business. More people pay attention on me and what I do.
Of course, I have to try to keep my focus on tennis because that's what I want to do still in next 10, 15 years. Who knows. Everything else, you know, I'll manage to survive.