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INTERVIEWS

March 17, 2007


N. DJOKOVIC/A. Murray

6-2, 6-3

An interview with:

NOVAK DJOKOVIC


THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Novak, you're in final of the fifth largest tournament in the world. It's amazing the whole two weeks were just going your way. What does this mean, regardless what happens tomorrow, for your confidence and for your future career?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: It means a lot, because like you said, it's considered as one of the biggest tournament after grand slams. And I'm really happy to get through because it's the first Master Series tournament in this year, and I'm already in the finals. And, as you all know, the four grand slams are more important, after that, Master Series. So these 13 tournaments are very important and for every player. Every player tries to be fit and ready mentally and physically as much as he can, to make a good result.
It's going to mean a lot for me, for my confidence, and gives me another motivation, because I have reached the finals of huge tournament with all the best players in the world playing on it. And, sure, it gives me motivation for the future to make more of these results.

Q. Regardless of what happens tomorrow, you will break into the top 10. Can you just talk about what that means to you and how significant you feel it is.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: It means like -- again, it means, you know, big thing for me, to reach the top 10 for the first time in my life. And I'm 19 years old, you know. I've made some great results in the last couple of months, last year.
So basically on the start of the year, I reached and achieved my goal for this year and just tried to remain in the top 10 until the end the year. But here again, I have to say that I think I have enough quality to go for the higher goals, to go more, and I have shown with my results.

Q. The top 10 is something that everybody talks about a lot. Is it a relief to do it and no one's going to say when is he going to break into the top 10?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Depends on how you look on it. Depends on the person, the player. If you pay attention a lot to the rankings, to the points, then it's a relief. But for me, sure, it's a nice thing to hear and see that I am top 10, and it opens a lot of doors, you know.
But on the other hand, I shouldn't think too much about it. Just try to play tennis and go step by step, because if I think too much about it, it's gonna make a lot of pressure.

Q. Given that there was so much riding on this match, it was so important for you and for Andy, and the two of you are friends and all that had happened with Andy, and his injury and all the rest of it, how difficult was it? Was all that a distraction from what you actually had to do today?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: It's not a pleasant sight to see your opponent playing like that. I think it was not so nice match to watch, and people certainly expected something more. For me, it was very important to stay focused, to stay in the match, every point, because Andy is kind of player who can come back right away, boom, he can make a break. He has great returns, great strokes. And I was aware of that. That's why I was really trying to stay calm.
But again, I have to say, it's not easy to see your opponent really struggling, you know, walking slowly, playing slowly, making a lot of mistakes. It just makes you play the same way.
But I'm really happy to get through.

Q. Were you surprised he actually played the match given what happened last night?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: No, no. No, I was not surprised that he played the match. And this is -- it's a professional -- it's the life of the professional tennis player and this is his job and his life, and he fights for it. He's a big competitor. He's a big fighter. And I didn't even think in one moment that he's gonna retire or not come to the match or not play or during the match, retire. So I knew that he was gonna go all the way.

Q. How much of his match did you catch last night, and were you surprised he came through then?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yeah, I've seen the first set and I've seen the injury when he twisted his ankle. And I've seen the last couple of points of the match, the tiebreaker, and it was really difficult match, you know. I'm sure it was really big advantage for me that I finished the match earlier and I had, you know, match -- I finished the match in straight sets and had really a lot of time to rest and be prepared 100 percent for this match.
And he probably finished about 10:30, after three hours. So it was difficult for him. But, again, I have to say it didn't bother me too much today.

Q. Knowing Serbians, I'm suspecting the whole country will be rooting for you tomorrow, but the other day you mentioned something very interesting, that tennis national center and, I would like you to comment what that actually mean for the future of the tennis and for the kids in Serbia, if they build it?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Every result I make or Tipsarevic or Ana Ivanovic or Jankovic or all the players from Serbia means a lot for our country because we never had the big tennis tradition. We had -- in Serbia, we had Boba Zivojinovic, who was top 20 in singles and first in doubles, that's it. Before him we didn't have anybody.
Right now in this point, we have me, top 10, girls one is top 10, the other top 15, doubles, top 10 players. So it's a huge success for us. And people are willing to play tennis, and we have a lot of talents, and we are very young. You know, all the players I mentioned, we are pretty young, so just on the start of our careers. And there are many more kids coming up.
But, again, this is why I mentioned the national tennis center. It's very important because of them, especially to help them improve and help them in their careers so they can be a professional players.

Q. Did you catch any of the Nadal/Roddick match, just points or anything?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: No, I didn't. Maybe first two games, I seen couple of points, but then I went to practice and I was eating lunch. They finished pretty quickly. It was really fast match.
I know the way Nadal plays. I'm familiar with his game. I've played him on clay, quarterfinals, French Open last year. Unfortunately I didn't finish this match. But I could take away some positives, some good things from that match. And I've learned something in every match against player like him, or all the top players. Is new experience, and you learn something from the matches.
So, you know, I'm feeling pretty confident right now and really comfortable on the court. And, you know, we'll see what happens, you know. I'm really -- I will go out there and try to win.

Q. I was hoping that you could actually answer a question about maturity. You're 19 years old and you go out there and you seem to command yourself really well, doesn't look like you're swinging at the ball and making a lot of huge errors. It looks like you've got it going upstairs. Just comment on that and how you're able to keep yourself through the ups and downs and get through a match. And obviously you've shown it in making it to the finals.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, thank you, very much for those comments. It's a compliment. But, you know, I cannot give certain -- something, a lot of comments about it because it's just the way I am. You know, it's just depending on the person.
On the other hand, it's all about practice. It's all about experience, you know. You see Federer, the way he acts now on the court, the way he plays, it's just perfect. You know, he really deals with the pressure and all the things so easy and looks so easy. So it's motivation when you see the player like that, it's motivation for yourself and for everybody else to reach this point where he is right now.
And, you know, I know that I'm really young and just reached the top 10 with 19 years old, but, yeah, I'm still looking forward to another challenges.

Q. When we look at your scores this week, it looks like something Roger would do this week. Can you talk about the level you've played at and also maintaining that level throughout this tournament.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yes, I've played on the start of the tournament, I didn't play my best tennis, played Robbie Ginepri, won in straight sets, but the way I played and the way he played was supposed to be a bit longer match, but I was lucky to get through.
And then from match to match, I was rising my game and level, as well. So right now, you know, I've played two matches on the center court, playing tomorrow against the No. 2 in the world. I don't see any reasons why I should be either scared or thinking that I have something to lose, really. I'm just gonna go out there and try to win and play my best tennis, you know.
Nadal is -- he's a great competitor. I know it's probably gonna be, if I play well, a long match. It's really difficult player to win against. But he's feeling pretty comfortable with the surface here because it's bouncing a lot, and for his heavy spins, it's great. So we gonna see what happens.

Q. When you played him in the French, what was the injury that made you unable to finish the match?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: It was back problem.

Q. A back problem?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yes. It was the only back problem I had in my life, and I had it for the French Open. And after, I healed it, everything was all right.

Q. Any concerns with the turnaround? You know, your matches ended about 6:00, and then coming back at noon tomorrow and in the heat.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, it's going to be difficult. Like I said, Nadal is the player who likes to play long points and who likes to play in the heat and everything. But, you know, that's the way it is, you know. They already set the finals at noon. I can't do anything about it. I can't change it. I'm just going to try to recover as much as I can and be ready for tomorrow.

Q. But do you feel fresh? I mean, just looking at your scores, it didn't seem like --
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I feel good. Yeah, certainly I feel good. The positive thing about it is that I didn't have long matches, and he didn't have long matches, as well. So, you know, we going to be fresh, more or less both, and fit for tomorrow. So I'm expecting a good match.

Q. What do you have to do to win tomorrow? What's the biggest thing that you have to do to be able to beat a player like Nadal tomorrow?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Just be myself. Just, you know, try to be confident as much as I can, because, you know, you're in the finals playing the No. 2 player in the world. If I go -- if I go to the match with thinking, okay, I'm going to play my best tennis and try to prove to the people that I'm talented player, no. It's not the thinking I'm going with. It's the thinking of winning, so I'll try to win.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you.

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