Novak Djokovic Presser: “I Think I’m Playing Equally Well As I Did 12 Months Ago”
by Staff | April 2nd, 2012, 9:41 am

Novak Djokovic captured his third Sony Ericsson Open Miami title on Sunday, beating Andy Murray 6-1, 7-6. Djokovic collected his 30th career title, second of the year..

The World No. 1 never lost a set en route to his 11th career Masters crown. He’s improved to 8-5 lifetime against Murray and avenged a loss, one of two he’s suffered this year, to the Scot in Dubai last month.

Djokovic said he’ll know take a week off before hitting the practice courts in preparation for the Monte Carlo (Apr 15) and the clay season.

Djokovic met the press afterward:

Q. Good to close it out in the tiebreaker?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yeah. Three similar matches, you know, three last matches of the tournament. Won the opening set 6 1 and felt great on the court, and then had a lot of chances in the three opening series games of this where I could break, but I didn’t, and, you know, that’s something to expect when you’re playing a top player, quality player like Murray.
When he feels the chance, he always grabs it. You know, luckily for me I came out with some good serving when I needed to. You know, I think I served over 70% of first serves in, which was really important today to get a couple of free points on that serve and set up a good second shot, and I have done that when I needed to.

Q. How eager were you to get out of there in just two sets? That second set went long.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yeah, it went long, I mean, over two hours for two sets.
But when two baseline players are playing, you know, high quality tennis, you can expect it goes the distance. I wasn’t expecting a short match, definitely.
I came in knowing it’s going to be physical, knowing that I’m gonna have to play each point, each game in order to win this match.

Q. Some of the other guys, they almost make a big deal of being out there, making it go a long time. With Murray sometimes it’s hard to tell. Looks as if he’s almost out of it but yet he seems very close and ready to turn it around.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yeah, because he has a lot of shots in his repertoire he can come up with and can be playing equally offensive and defensive. He’s a great athlete, great agility, balance, you know, anticipation on the court, big serve, one of the best returns in the game. He’s got all of the variety in the game. That’s why he’s so dangerous on any surface.

Q. The three titles you’ve won here, can you just say what each one has meant to you and how each one is different.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Each one is different. Obviously the 2007 title was the first big title I won. Since then I started making some really big results in the big events, and it was a big confidence boost for me, you know, strong wind in the back for my career. I was still quite young and careless on the court hitting the ball very strong.
But then over the years, you know, I got the experience playing on the top level, and I got stronger physically, worked on my game obviously, always seeking to improve.
Last year’s tournament was great, as well, and, you know, finals especially with Rafa went the distance, you know, till the last point of the match. Didn’t know who was gonna win it.
Again this year, I didn’t drop a set, which is very impressive. I’m really happy with the way I played last three matches against three very good opponents and top players, so this is a very positive thing, you know, for continuation of the season.

Q. The three matches that you mentioned, they were almost the same. Is it that you laid back a little bit on the second match [sic], you know, with these players? Because you are confident that in the end if you step up you’re gonna win, or…
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I didn’t lay back. Results wise, they were similar, but I played against three different opponents. You know, I think, as I said before, that I delivered the best game when I needed to, and I came up with good serves and aggressive shots when the opportunity was presented, and I took it.
That’s what matters the most, really. You know, I won three tiebreaks out of three matches: quarterfinals, semifinals, and finals. And that’s something that gives me a lot of confidence, as well, you know, for the next challenges.

Q. How important is this result for the clay season that comes now and Roland Garros?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Oh, any title is big, and it means a lot, I mean, such a big tournament that is considered one of the biggest tournaments in our sport. I won three times here. I think that says enough about how I feel playing in Miami.
I love the crowd. It’s a lot of support. Night sessions are my most preferable here, because the crowd gets into it and you can feel that great vibe in the stands.
I have been really playing well in the last couple of years here, so this is going to be very encouraging for me prior to the clay court season. I’m gonna have more confidence coming into the Monte Carlo tournament. It’s going to be the opening tournament on clay.
I haven’t played it last year. I look forward to it. I want to start well. I want to start strong. I want to go deep in the tournament, and, you know, there is a lot of tournaments coming up. Obviously Roland Garros, Olympics, Wimbledon, they are top of the priority list, but still, I want to perform well on all the others.

Q. Is Miami your favorite?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: One of my favorites.

Q. Some people would have thought that with Andy Murray having two walkovers and you’ve played so many matches in the last several weeks that maybe you would be tired and he would be fresher. Did you feel that way at all going in?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Oh, no, really. I mean, scheduling was good for me. I had a day off yesterday. I had some time off to get energized and get ready for the finals.
Played couple of day session matches, night session matches. So I thought the scheduling was really well. I felt physically really good.
You know, for two tournaments we are spending four weeks here, so it’s not really playing intensively every day. It was okay.

Q. The win last year came in the middle of the start of that incredible run of wins. Where do you think your game is now compared to a year ago? Do you think it’s possible to repeat one like that?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, look, you know, the season was incredible, especially the opening five, six months of the year.
Every year is different. So I’m coming in in this year with a Grand Slam win and now a Miami win, couple of semifinals. I think I’m playing equally well as I did 12 months ago.
But again, it’s different. It’s a different approach. I still want to fight for every title, as everybody else, have this positive mindset, not really defending or calculating how many points I can lose and things like that. So every tournament for me is equally important.

Q. After you win a championship like this, do you allow yourself to go to the bakery, or are you very strict…

Q. Are you very strict about your no bread, no pasta?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: No, no. Right now I mean, I don’t know. I cannot guarantee anything. (Laughter.)
I think I deserve a fresh bagel. (Smiling.)

Q. What about your spirit this year compared to last year? Last year you were clearly a man on a mission. Now it’s almost like you’re beyond that point, you’re somewhere else. Can you talk about that?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Um, well, I feel that, you know, being No. 1 and having the best year of my career in 2011 is you know, I’m playing at the peak of my form and I’m playing the best tennis that I have played.
So I have to use that as much as I can, you know, coming into every tournament that I play. The competition is getting stronger, I believe. Everybody is so professional nowadays.
You have the top players playing in all the top events, you know. That wasn’t the case maybe five, ten years ago.
So that makes it even tougher for anybody to win a title. But I’m ready for it, you know.
We all, you know, give each other, especially the top players, give each other a reason to improve always and look forward to, you know, to win as many titles as we can.

Q. You seem pretty comfortable with No. 1. How do you feel lately on the court? Are you feeling that there is a bigger gap between you and the rest of the players?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Ah, I mean, there is no gap, you know, really. Every tournament is a new opportunity for all the players to win a title. That’s how I look at it.
Rankings, you know, I don’t need to say too much. You have different surfaces, different seasons that, you know, are more suitable to different kind of players.
So, you know, clay court is obviously Nadal and Spanish players, South Americans, are the ones who have, in past couple of years, more success than the others, but, you know, I believe that everybody’s improving their game on the different surfaces.
It’s very demanding, you know. I think I have been playing really well on all different kinds of surfaces. Winning the title on grass for me in Wimbledon last year was a great feeling and an important title, you know, for my career.

Q. Did the heat affect the performance today? The heat?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, it was quite warm, you know. It went over two hours, and we had many long rallies, but that’s something that you expect when you’re playing a tough rival and somebody that has very similar style of the game that I have.
You know, our games are based on the baseline and hitting a lot of baseline shots and being very patient and aggressive at times.
So, yeah, it was tough, you know, at some times. But I think we both felt really good physically.

Q. Practice court session before the game against Monaco, you hit a home run. Are you a baseball fan? How much is having fun part of your game plan?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Honestly, I’m not a big fan of baseball. I’m a fan of hitting the home runs with a tennis racquet on the practice sessions. (Smiling.)
We try to come up with some crazy ideas and invent new sports on the tennis court. Yesterday we played a little tennis hockey, if you want to call it, or whatever, on the practice.
So we like having fun. I mean, sometimes that brings good energy and, you know, makes you relax a little bit and don’t think about pressure and expectations and knowing that you have to, you know, fight for a title but still enjoying a little bit in the off court activities.

Q. I’m guessing you’re feeling as strong physically as you ever have. Are you a little curious yourself to see what kind of game you have on clay this season to find out?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Always curious, you know. Clay, I think, demands most physical effort out of all surfaces from the player. So I have an extra week, as everybody else, comparing to the other seasons to prepare for Monte Carlo tournament.
I’m gonna have now a week off and then a week of practice. I have more than enough time to get ready.
But as I said, you know, you have to be physically very fit. Your endurance has to be on a very high level, because all the long rallies that you play on hard courts, it’s double that on clay.
But, you know, knowing that I had such a great clay court season last year and some clay court wins in major events gives me confidence prior to this one.

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27 Comments for Novak Djokovic Presser: “I Think I’m Playing Equally Well As I Did 12 Months Ago”

marko Says:

I LOVED that video..he’s so nice to everybody..He even goes in and thanks the ball boys. Now that’s CLASS!

jake Says:

It is just proper to thank not only the ball boys but everybody specially when you win. Not a news.

Superhuman Says:

Whatever Jake!

marko Says:


Judging by the “OH MY GOD” that one of the ball boys said, I’m guessing that going to the ball boys locker room and thanking them is NOT something all the players do.

Of course it’s not’s just a nice video of the things Djokovic does after the winner’s ceremony. Nice insight.

Wog boy Says:

Doesn’t happen often that #1 goes in to the balls boys locker room. That signed polo shirt might worth some money one day :)
As Father said “Mnogaja ljeta, mnogaja ljeta” Nole i “Bog te blagoslovio” for all the joy and happiness that you bring to your fans, your people, all tennis lovers and your family. Ziveli :)

jane Says:

It’s a nice video – cool to see the behind the scenes after. I like how they always show that after Wimbledon.

marko Says:

@Wog Boy,

personally I’m not a big fan of the fact that Djokovic is so religious, but so long as he keeps on winning, and being such a good guy he’s okay with me. Doesn’t really bother me, just I left the old country before everyone became religious again.

As a matter of fact I was supposed to fly back to Belgrade yesterday, but I got turned away at the airport because my passport was slightly scruffy. Now I have to wait a week and had to spend $650 to get a new one. Same old tricks as in Serbia, they make new rules and regulations just to find new ways to get money from ordinary people :(

Was sorry to find out Novak won’t be playing in Belgrade this year, I was timing my trip so I’d be there during the tournament :(

marko Says:

P.S. I can’t wait to get some sljivovica and chvarke in me :) Oh and cevapi, and the cherries will be in bloom in a little while.. My mouth is watering. First thing I’ll do is go to the pijaca. Plus I’ll be able to watch Nole’s matches with sooo many other fans.. Here I usually have to watch them with Federer fans.

marko Says:

P.P.S. and Burek too, with meat..with some REAL yogurt you can actually drink.. Man, now my imagination is running wild.

Wog boy Says:

Put it this way, those three (yours) posts were extremly unfair for us living so far and not beeing able to go back as often as we would like, this is like telling the man lost in the desert about Niagara falls;(

mat4 Says:

Come one, Woggy. Burek is overrated. Even with meat. I tried the Bosnian one too. Nothing special.

But barbecue… a lamb, or a piglet… or skara in Macedonia… with beer, of course, not wine, that’s the whole point.

Daniel D Martin Says:

He actually ooked much weaker that all last year but just as keen to catch on any mistake of his opponents ,like the manny Murray gave him today
For the rest i hate his policies
wanna get him mad just yell out loud

marko Says:


Sorry guys, I just let my excitement get the better of me.. I totally understand that desert feeling.. I’ve only been back 5 times in the last 20 years (and it’s been a different country each time, SFRJ, SRJ, SCG, Serbia, and finally Serbia – Kosovo).. I’ve been waiting for this, and saving up my money, since 2008. Now the extra week wait to get a new passport is just hell..

Burek is overrated??? That’s sacrilege! You need to try some good old Backi burek.

I think I’ll pop down to Macedonia as well..Always wanted to see Ohrid!! I’ll find myself a beautiful traveling companion, in Belgrade and go swimming in Ohrid.. Then I’ll also be able to try real skara too. I had some in a turkish restaurant in NY once, but I bet it’ll taste WAAAAY better with beer, on the Ohrid shore, with a warm breeze on my face, and an even warmer Balkan girl on my arm…

Oh, I’m just torturing myself too at this point. I certainly know that desert feeling.

Wog boy Says:

mat4, burek is food we are growing up with. When I was going to school I was given just enough money to by 1/8 of burek and yogurt, what is called here buttermilk. In a cold weather burek keeps you going until you go back home. The other food you are talking about is main meal and I can see you are quite familiar with Balkan kitchen:) next time you are overthere, I mean next year for SO, try “gibanica” in central Serbia and tell me what do you think:) I know the answer:)

Wog boy Says:

You are not torturing yourself, you are toturing me;(

marko Says:

Love gibanica, especially with shopska salata.

Ok Wog Boy, I’m going to stop now, I promise.

Michael Says:

No, I don’t agree with Novak. His level has definitely come down from the exordinary performance he exhibited in 2011.

mat4 Says:


I spend quite some time in the Balkans. I didn’t go to Slovenia recently, but was everywhere else, and often enough. I wrote once here that my formation is in historical linguistics, and I know the history of south-eastern Europe quite well.

Though this is a tennis site, not a place to write about politics, I am glad to see that Djokovic is proud of his people, because he has every reason to do so.

courbon Says:

To Wog Boy and Marko:
Its not only unfair but you are cruel marko…Damn you!
(stuck in London, have not been in Belgrade for 2 years….)

Wog boy Says:

If this is going to make you feel better, In 25 years I made it only 3 (three) times back.

Ajet Says:

oh wogboy, marko and other guys from serbia, why’re you bloody killing me with discussing serbian food??? I’m a food freak and love every new kind of food starting from east to west except of course insect snacks(yuck!). even though i’ve not tasted those balkan delicacies, but amazon is flowing out of my mouth already seeing you guys talking and longin about serbian and balkan foods! please stop talking about food! it’s drivivng me wild: the idea of tasting them! even won’t mind paying the bill for you guys only if we could sit together and have food in a balkan restaurant! but for the time being, stop your utter cruelty and stop provokin my food-greedy taste buds to extreme end with your talk!

marko Says:

Okay..yes, for the sake of everyone’s sanity let’s stop talking about food…

Ajet, FYI..half of us Balkan people live in the diaspora..Literally, almost half..So this feeling of longing is very common for us. I don’t know where you live, but if you ever want to visit the Balkans let me know, we’ll make sure you have a good time and try out every single dish we have :) Oh, and we also have some VERY, VERY beautiful, warm, intelligent, strong willed, women to go along with the food.

Steve 27 Says:

Serbian women are beautiful!

Ajet Says:

sure, whenever i visit the balkans, i would tell you so that you could guide me about the dos and dont’s of balkan holidays! :)

Ajet Says:

now as if balkan food wasn’t enough to make me go nuts, now marko’s talking about balkan ladies too! i wanna visit the balkans, and i will!!! :D

marko Says:

There you go Ajet, you’ve made the right decision :)

Ajet Says:

@marko: :)

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