Novak Djokovic: Physically, Mentally I’m Motivated, I’m Fresh; I’m Very Well Prepared, I’m Playing Really Good Tennis
by Staff | January 23rd, 2012, 10:21 am

Defending champion Novak Djokovic wasn’t suppose to lose a set to the aging veteran Lleyton Hewitt but he did. The feisty Australian pushed the World No. 1 but in the end the Serb was too tough taking out Hewitt in front of his home fans 61 36 64 63 to advance to the quarterfinals of the Australian Open.

Djokovic’s win lifts his Australian Open win streak to 11 and his overall Grand Slam streak to 18.

Of the Fab Four, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer have yet to lose a set while Djokovic and Andy Murray have given up just one.

The 30-year-old Hewitt who beat Andy Roddick and then Milos Raonic Saturday acquitted himself well under the constant duress of Djokovic’s versatile game.

Djokovic will now play David Ferrer in the quarterfinals perhaps on Wednesday night.

Afterward, here’s what Djokovic said:

Q. What happened in the third set? You relaxed a bit or it was him?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yeah, I played some loose points and got him back into the match. But credit to him as well for being competitive, for not giving up.

This is something you can expect from Lleyton who is very well­known for his fighting spirit.

I should have closed it out earlier. I should have held my serve in 3­1, because I was playing well, I was feeling well. Suddenly I stopped. I didn’t move well anymore. He got back into the match.

But look, you know, he had the crowd, he had the big support. It got intense. Especially the start of the fourth set we had some great rallies. You know, it’s good to come out from this match as a winner.

Q. You had some physical problems?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: No. Actually, I don’t. It’s just that I wasn’t happy with my movement and my legs were not working. Between that part, 3­0, third set for me, you know, beginning of the fourth, I wasn’t moving at all. I was pretty passive at the rallies, giving him opportunity to come in.

But, look, you know, you must expect that you experience some lows, as well, you know, not only highs. It’s good that you experience these things, you know, bad games, bad movements at this stage of the tournament, prior to the quarterfinals now.

Q. This was your first big test since the beginning of the tournament. How do you evaluate your form now?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I think it’s good. You know, I think it’s good. It’s just that small part, maybe 45 minutes, one hour, where I wasn’t playing well and he did.

Look, as I said, it happens. I just have to keep on going. I’m confident that physically it’s not going to affect me too much, even though it’s very late. I’m going to play I think a night match again in two days.

You know, it was the first night match this year. So getting into these conditions. I think all of his matches were night matches.

You know, I’m not looking for excuses, but I’m saying, you know, it’s obviously the first match that I’ve been tested. It was against the player that I expected to be tested. You know, Lleyton was playing in front of his crowd. Obviously he loves competing against, you know, the top guys on the big stage, and he proved it again.

Q. Can you tell us a little bit more about your insights into the top four?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, as I said on the court, I think it’s just the experience that you get playing on the tour that you can use in the certain moments when you feel you are under pressure and just being able to overcome that pressure with that mental strength, you know, your skills and physical ability as well.

In today’s tennis, as any other sport, has improved tremendously in comparing to 15, 20, 30 years ago. Nowadays it’s very physical so you have to work very hard, you have to be dedicated, you have to take care of the smallest details off the court as well, how you organize your life, you have to be emotionally balanced. All these kind of things play a very significant role, you know, in your performance on the court.

Q. Do you think it’s also a matter of personality? For instance, today Ferrer came, he’s No. 5 in the world, there was nobody, no English questions, nobody cares. It’s all on the top four.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: You know, that’s something I don’t have an answer to. I guess the people, you know, mostly talk about the top four because the top four have been I think the most dominant in the tennis the last couple of years.

But in my eyes David Ferrer and every player, especially the ones from the top, are great competitors and I have lots of respect towards them. I think sometimes they’re underrated, you know. Especially Ferrer, who has been so consistent, he’s been a top­five player for a long time.

Q. It’s said sometimes it’s easier to climb the mountain than to stay there. A sense of that going into this season?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I’m going to experience lots of, let’s say, expectations and pressure of being a top player this year as long as I’m there. I think I started off well. I think physically, mentally I’m motivated, physically I’m fresh, I’m very well­prepared. I’m playing really good tennis.

Even tonight I played for most of the match a great game. There are some things that obviously I want to work on, I want to get better for the next round. But look, you know, it’s normal to have ups and downs. It’s normal to expect that in most of the matches that I play I will be a favorite, I will be expected to win comfortably.

But, you know, I cannot underestimate any opponent. You know, I have to stay dedicated and stay focused. As long as it’s like that, I think I’m on the right path.

Q. You’ve been at the top for six months or so. How comfortable is the No. 1 skin feeling?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: My approach, as I was saying before, hasn’t changed towards the sport itself and towards my preparations for the big events like this one. I still am surrounded with the same team, same amount of people, same people, and they’re taking care of my on­court performance, activities, things like that. I feel very comfortable right now working with them.

I have to accept this life as simple as possible, you know, because you can easily get carried away. There is a lot of temptations, especially when you’re at the top. Obviously you get more attention and more temptations to do some things that can affect your performance in a negative way.

Q. Girls included?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I am settled for now. I am settled for now.

Q. You seemed very calm even down a breakpoint in the fourth. Is it confidence that you’re not feeling the fear anymore in these situations?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I’ve been working on that obviously. I’ve been working on my emotional stability, trying to not have some really high ups and downs, just try to stay as calm as possible, especially in this situation.

It was a really big challenge for me tonight, you know, to see where I stand. I think I’ve been handling it really well because I could easily get my emotions out as I usually did.

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20 Comments for Novak Djokovic: Physically, Mentally I’m Motivated, I’m Fresh; I’m Very Well Prepared, I’m Playing Really Good Tennis

tennisfan Says:

He is one of the most confident players around and there is no doubt that he has a great chance of winning Australian Open : Evolution of Novak Djokovic- Australian Open (2007-2012)!

Nicole Says:

I LOVE Roger but I respect Nole because he couldn’t beat Roger 2-3 years ago but has worked hard and now he has beaten him a few times.

I also like this blog:

GO ROGER!!!!!!!!!!!

jane Says:

Nice interview. I like his positive attitude, and also he pays respect to Hewitt and Ferrer, both. It’s so good to see/read how he has matured. Good for you Nole!

Kimberly Says:

Well Jane deserves some credit here, everyone else said the Tsonga Nishikori match was going to be a blowout and we sneered and laughed at her for using the Exho as evidence that it might be a good match. And btw, where is Jamie’s psychic today?

Kimberly Says:

and I don’t think Nadal or Novak have it easy. Ferrer is an excellent returner and Berdych is a heavy hitter who can beat anyone. I hope everyone is right but I feel very nervous.

mat4 Says:


[I didn’t post for a few days and now I am obviously abusing…]

Nishikori showed a lot of maturity in that match. Will he be the new Ferrer, or the new Cheng?

margot Says:

Or Hewitt?

mat4 Says:


Or Hewitt, why not? Especially if he dyes his hair.

grendel Says:


Who “sneered and laughed at her [jane]for using the Exho as evidence that it might be a good match.” apart from me? (actually, I doubted Nishihori would beat Tsonga on such evidence, said nothing about being good or bad match).

I have (deservedly) eaten humble pie, and given jane credit (on other thread). As a matter of fact, I find it hard to be consistent on this exho business. Sometimes they seem meaningless, sometimes highly informative. And this can depend on the nature of the exho, the player, or even at what stage of his training a player is at. So it’s quite hard to judge.

jane Says:

grendel, I am hoping that the exo in Abu Dabi proves meaninful, esp w.r.t. Nole/Ferrer. But I agree that it’s tough to know what to make of exos.

Kimberly thanks for being so gracious. Actually I didn’t notice the sneers if they came; I thought people just kept ignoring my point that maybe Nishikori would spring a surprise so I annoyingly repeated it on a few threads, ha ha.

Kimberly Says:

@ Grendel—-if I didn’t agree with you out loud I agreed with you in thought, so I am certainly including myself. But I didn’t even think it would be a good match let alone give Nisikori a chance of winning.

As to using an exho as evidence, I guess it depends on how hard the players are trying and how the particular players view the matches—-the two fedal exhos last December one in Switzerland and one in Spain were clearly rigged to go three sets and let the host win. I didn’t and wouldn’t see those as evidence of anything. Federer is known for treating exhos for what they are, he has lost many times and then gone to the next real event a different player. But for the other players? I guess we could only consider or not consider it if we knew what was inside their heads. I think it also depends on the character of the exho. If they are wearing microphones and/or talking to the crowd it is clearly a show and not a serious match.

My husband and I recently played a mixed doubles match against the club pro and another woman. He was by far the best player on the court by miles and miles, didn;t take the match seriously, started out making stupid cute shots and being funny and we started losing. Then the other guy ripped me off on a line call and all of a sudden the cute shots ended and the heavy unreturnable shots began. So what’s in the player’s mind matters as well.

@Skeezer, I have waiting almost 24 hours to send condolences figuring you are too pissed off to hear them but I am sorry about the niners. It really could have gone either way. As could have the AFC match.

goat galz Says:

What a cupcake draw for Murray. Not sure this easy road will be good for him.
PS Ryan Harrison was not a test

carlo Says:

David Ferrer takes practices matches seriously. I’ve seen him in action.

Wog boy Says:

Ok, I had my Irish coffee, Serbian way to start a day, with plum brandy and short black double shot, ready to leave hotel for a great day of tennis. Who I am going to go for today? Well, Azarenka, Delpo the man, Nadal …
It is already bloody hot here, good luck to all the players and good tennis.
Something happened to Azarenka during practice this morning and it looks serious.
Cheers, tennis-x posters

Wog boy Says:

And Kim, it is going to be hard, but yes Kim, you can do it.

Wog boy Says:

How many breaks Azarenka need to get a set. One of the worst tiebreaks. Hot but not so humid, little bit windy, just.

Wog boy Says:

She heard me:-) Azarenka is wearing Radwanska down.

Wog boy Says:

Bravo Azarenka, go all the way.

Davaj Azarenka.

Michael Says:

I think Novak should be disappointed about his performance against Hewitt giving away one set. Is this a blip or there is a dip in his form ??? This should enthuse the other three and fancy about their chances especially Murray.

Michael Says:

There is just one man who is standing between Federer/Nadal for this title and it is the irrepressible Novak.

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