An Interview With… Novak Djokovic (2016 Rogers Cup, Finals)

N. DJOKOVIC/K. Nishikori

6-3, 7-5

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. First of all, congratulations. Were there enough hugs in the crowd?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: (Laughter.) Well, I have seen — I have seen a few. I was in a hug myself, so I couldn’t really look at the whole stadium, but I have seen many people did give a hug to the person next to them.

It was a really wonderful moment. I did feel that it was just the right moment for me to ask politely the crowd to do that, because in the end of the day, we are all here for the same thing. We are all here to connect through tennis, through passion for the sport, and it’s nice that, you know, we got to sense and feel that kind of energy around the stadium.

Q. Congratulations. I just wanted to ask you, the media often talks about your quest of being the greatest of all time. Where do you place the importance of an Olympic gold medal in the grand scheme of things for your legacy, let’s call it? And your mental preparation for something that you haven’t won? Because you have won pretty much everything else. How is that going to be, given the distractions around the Olympics, other athletes, sports that might interest you, or other events?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, there is going to be a lot going on with the Olympic Games, and as you mentioned, different sports and different events.

Well, it’s the biggest sports event in the history of the sport, so to be part of it is already a huge privilege and honor that I will cherish, as I did in Beijing and London Olympic Games.

I had an honor of carrying the flag for my country in London back in 2012, and that was one of the most unique and unforgettable moments of my life. So I look forward to that, honestly, just being part of it.

Approaching the Olympic Games as any other tournament, really. Trying to respect the same kind of preparation and routine that I have with my team and that I have respected for so many years, and that has worked well for us this week and as most of the other weeks the last couple of years.

So of course the overall sensation is not going to be the same as the other tournaments, because it’s Olympic Games. You know, of course you represent your country. You know, you get to feel that you’re part of something much larger than just the tennis event. I look forward to that. I’m going to try to extract that positivity out of that huge attention and energy that will be directed into the Olympic Games and hopefully put myself in a position to battle for a medal.

Q. Did you have any reservations going to Rio, any worries, concerns? We saw some of the other top players pulling out. Did that ever cross your mind?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: No, no. Really, again, I think it’s all in our minds. Depends how you really approach things. I really don’t think about negative stuff and stuff that might cause a fear or concern or something like that, like viruses or security issues.

Surely they are there. We have to be, in a way, cautious. But I try to look at things from the brighter side. I’m part of the Olympic Games. You know, it’s a very exciting city and country that is very passionate for sports. You know, millions of people will be there. You know, so many other millions will watch it on the TV. That’s the kind of vibe that I feed on, and I look forward to the Olympic Games because I approach it in that way. So I can’t wait to be there.

Q. You come into the tournament, lost to Querrey at Wimbledon, a few weeks off, little bit not so good at beginning of the tournament. How would you explain the evolution of playing so well from the beginning of the tournament to the end of the tournament?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, it’s a process like any other that has happened many times in my career where I would start a tournament still feeling a little bit uncomfortable on the court and finding my rhythm, and then in the end of the tournament, as the tournament goes on, I find that proper comfort level with shots, with the way I feel, with mental attitude. And the two best performances have arrived in semifinals and finals at the right moment for me.

So that gives me a lot of confidence that I will try to carry into Rio. Everything in life happens for a reason, so, you know, the fact that I have lost in the first week of Wimbledon allowed me to have a week more of the time with my family and just the quality time off the tennis, thinking about other things, recharging my batteries, and then coming in here with plenty of motivation to do well.

So I couldn’t ask for a better start of the hard court season, and hopefully I can keep going in the right direction.

Q. 30 is a lot. You have won a whole load of other titles, as well. Can you explain why and how these Masters titles still mean so much to you?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: After Grand Slams, these are the biggest events we have in sport of tennis. Naturally I’m going to be very disciplined, committed, and focused to do well.

But, you know, obviously Grand Slams you value those, you know, the most because in the history books they count the most. But in the other hand, you know, I love playing in Masters tournaments throughout my career. I have had plenty of success in this particular category of events, and I’m very grateful for that because I always value them as much as I value Grand Slams.

So, you know, I try to approach every single day, whether it’s a match day or practice day, with the right mindset and knowing that this will eventually pay off down the road.

Q. Obviously you played here and then you’re going to Rio. Is your plan now to still play Cincinnati, as well?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, yes, but I need to see how Rio goes. I’m playing singles and doubles in Brazil, and, you know, that’s a lot of matches for I think 10 days’ event. Let’s see how that goes and we will speak about Cincinnati later.

Q. Congratulations. You talk about your approach and your preparation for tournaments such as these. Do you feel like you were at a bit of a disadvantage seeing how you had less rest time than Kei did having played the evening sessions every day?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: No. I mean, I don’t need to look back now and complain about schedule or having disadvantage. In contrary, I think that the schedule played, you know, perfectly for me and, you know, kind of building my form.

I played the first match day session. That was enough. Honestly, before the match, the tournament started, I practiced during the day. So I didn’t really feel like there was a long and much-needed adjustment to be made.

So it took a really, really short time for me to get in the right mode.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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