An Interview With.. Novak Djokovic | 2018 US Open Tennis Championships (R4)

US OPEN

Monday, September 3, 2018

Novak Djokovic

Press Conference

N. DJOKOVIC/J. Sousa

6-3, 6-4, 6-3

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Since winning Wimbledon, things seemed to have changed almost overnight for you in the eyes of many people. How does that show up in your everyday life? Do you sleep better, enjoy more quality time with your kids? What has changed in your everyday life since then?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, first I have to say that tennis is not determining whether I’m happy or not. I’m a father of two kids. There is a lot more happening in my life than tennis only. So, of course, I do feel better, you know, if I get to win a tennis match that I worked very hard for. If I lose it, you know, it’s not going to change the course of my every day for a certain amount of months or certain period.

It wasn’t like it used to be. When I got that blessing to become a father, you know, things have changed. You added more meaning and more purpose to your life, more responsibilities. So there are things that make you happy even when you lose a tennis match. So that’s the first thing.

In terms of tennis-related only, of course I felt huge relief when I won Wimbledon this year because of the period of last couple years before that, what I’ve been through with injury, inspiring myself to get back on the track and try to win majors and be one of the best players in the world.

Being absent from the tour for six months allowed me to have time for reflection for, you know, taking a larger perspective at things and understanding how I want to come back to the tour, how I want to play. Things I wanted to always work on but never had time, I had time. Well, I haven’t really played because of the elbow, but still I had time to reorganize my whole life. So I’m grateful for that opportunity.

Q. How would you describe your long rivalry with Roger Federer and its many memories?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, next to Nadal, my biggest rival I’ve had throughout my professional career. The matches I’ve played against him have shaped me into the player that I am today. That’s something that I was saying before.

Both, matches against Nadal and Federer, and Murray as well, have made me the player I am today because those were the guys that I always wanted to win against because those were the guys I had to beat in order to be the No. 1, to win slams, and have the career that I had behind me.

At the beginning of the career, I probably wasn’t seeing things that I’m seeing them now in terms of being in an era with these guys. Now I’m grateful that I was, that I still am, in the era with these guys, that I get a chance to witness their greatness as well, their rivalry, Nadal and Federer, which is the biggest rivalry, one of the biggest, of all time, and at the same time to be competing against them on such a big stage every year for a long time.

Q. Can you add something on Federer, specifically what stands out most in your memory as you consider all the matches you’ve played?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: As a match, you mean?

Q. Matches, what that means to you.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, it would probably be Wimbledon finals that I’ve had against him in ’14 and ’15. You’re probably wondering why I remember those two, because I won both (smiling). I remember some great matches we played here, as well.

At the earlier stages of my professional career, I’ve lost to Roger more than I have won in terms of those big matches. He was just always so good in the most important matches, most important tournaments. He never seemed to drop a level of his tennis.

To me, at the beginning of my career, professional career, I was struggling to have that consistency of the high level. That’s where, you know, I had to sit down with the team and figure out the way what it takes to win against him, what do I need to improve in my game, my mental approach, mental strength, just ability to cope with the pressure in those moments and try to prevail.

That was probably one of the ultimate challenges that I’ve ever had in my career.

Q. You played a lot of long, tough matches at Wimbledon and in Cincinnati before winning those titles. You’ve been tested twice now in the heat. Do you feel like those matches prepare you more than they wear you down? Do you like having the longer battles before bigger matches?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Long, but not too long. Not too many in a row, as well. I actually had several situations like this, I mean, throughout my Grand Slam career where I was tested earlier. As I got deeper into the tournament, I felt like I started to swing through the ball better, just started to raise the level of tennis.

I felt like in the first couple rounds, I was still struggling a little bit with the level. I wasn’t that consistent. Then last match against Gasquet, and also today, was pretty good. So I’m really pleased with where my game is at at the moment. Getting into quarterfinals, ready to perform well.

Q. You didn’t seem to feel well at some point in the third. Was it some heat issue?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yeah, it was couple things. But, yeah, heat was the – what do you call it – adversity today. It is what it is. I’ve experienced that in the first round. It’s tough, you know. It’s not easy to play in these kind of conditions. At the same time, you can’t do anything but try to be tough and survive, you know, find a way to win.

Q. Obviously Rafa and Roger are said to be the best of all time. You have a winning record against both of them. Talk about that dynamic.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I was behind in head-to-head with both of these guys up to recently. I managed to win some big matches against them in the last couple of years, but also lost some. There’s no particular rule, so to say, of direction or trajectory of the rivalry. We’ve witnessed, you know, throughout our rivalries that it’s almost 10, 15 years, there are periods and intervals, so to say, where I win couple matches in a row, then they win couple matches in a row. It just goes in swings, I guess, a little bit.

But once you win more than a match against your top rival, you start to feel like you have maybe a little bit of a mental advantage. It just depends, again, on how you feel playing against them, which kind of surface it is, what part of the year, so forth. Many different, so to say, elements that play a role in these particular matches, and very few points really. Very few details decide winner of those matches.

But I said, I mean, I really feel like their rivalry is really special because of the contrast of styles, just what they brought. I feel my rivalry, with Nadal especially, is quite amazing, as well. We played most matches against each other than any other two tennis players ever in the game, which is amazing.

At the same time, I think I’m still under the impression of the Strokes of Genius I watched a couple days ago, that was really cool. I saw that. I was glued to TV, watching Rafa and Roger, that kind of documentary. Really celebrating the greatness that they really are.

As I said, I mean, I just feel like these guys have been role models and examples on and off the court. For me, as well.

Q. What jumped out from watching Strokes of Genius?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I mean, I remember a little bit of it. I wasn’t watching when they played actually in ’08 full match. But I remember little bit of it. Now through the documentary, I could actually understand how good that match was, with interruptions of the rain and everything. Nadal losing couple finals in a row, then getting back and fighting hard and showing the champion’s spirit. Roger going back from two sets down, saving match points.

I mean, John McEnroe said it’s the best tennis match he has ever witnessed. When someone like John says that, it’s really like that.

So, I mean, I really did enjoy it. My wife and I were glued to the TV.

Q. We love your player impressions. Who on the tour does the best impression of you?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Of me? Andy Roddick was doing pretty good impression of me. Right now, Kyrgios maybe.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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