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Paris: Roland Garros, Novak Djokovic, May 31, 2007
 
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2007 Roland Garros Tennis
Paris, France

Interview with Novak Djokovic
Thursday, May 31, 2007

Q. You made some mistakes in the second set. What was the reason? Because of him, because of you or both?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, if I ‑‑ you know, that's probably the most negative thing. You know, the most negative part of the match, second set. But I'm trying not to think about that too much. You know, I was a bit skeptic on the start because I didn't know anything about him. And, you know, first set was going pretty well, but then in the second, I was break up, 3‑1 in serving, and just suddenly I stopped and made a couple of mistakes and I got him into the match.

He started believing in the victory, and obviously, you know, he started to go for his shots, you know. He started to play well, and he was not defending anymore. Now he was offensive. It resulted with a second set win.

In the third set, you know, I was pretty nervous in that moment, but I'm happy that I managed to calm down and just figure out what I'm going to do and try to be positive. I managed to win in the end, and that's the most important thing.


Q. So what is your opinion on this guy? Can you believe that he has not been ranked higher than 306? Did you expect such a level of play?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, you know, I was a favorite before the match, and it's not easy, you know. Like I say yesterday after the first round, you're playing the guys which are not getting so much opportunities to play on the big events. He doesn't have anything to lose. He plays his best tennis, you know. He believes it. The crowd is behind him. And he felt really good in that moment. I think he has quality to be much, much higher ranked player. Especially his game suits to this surface, to the clay.

But you know, it's all a matter of mental strength as well, you know. This is a game where basically every week you lose. So it's not easy to maintain the mental strength. It's individual sport.

But I think he is a pretty good player. He showed today that he can really have a good game. He gave me a lot of to be asked for in today's match.


Q. How pleased are you with your clay court game at the moment? I think you won in Estoril. How happy are you with the way it's progressing?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Estoril was very important for me. That was my second tournament on clay after Monte Carlo. And I was preparing for two weeks for that tournament, actually, the tournaments after as well. I won that tournament and it gave me a lot of confidence, because everybody, you know, now expects from me to be one of the guys who can actually hurt the best two players in the world, and I'm aware of that. There's a lot of expectations, lot of pressure, but I'm trying not to think about it too much.

After that, I played Super 9 two quarterfinals, which is not a bad result. I lost to Nadal first one, and second, I lost really tough match against Moya. So I'm happy with the results, but I know I can do better.

I'm not so happy with my two performances here. Well, I just cannot look on the negative things, and positive things is that I won, you know, two matches, two rounds. It was not easy, you know. I'm favorite even in the next match. So I'll try to do my best and start playing better.


Q. Is there a federation in your country, a tennis federation?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Excuse me?


Q. Is there a tennis federation?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Of course there is.


Q. How active are they? Because so many players coming out of your country now and making an impact on this tour.

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, it's difficult to say, because I mentioned already a lot of times that we are not a country with a big tennis tradition. Now in the last one and a half years, two years, you have so many players Top 10, you know. I think we are second country in the world who has most players in the Top 10. And it's fantastic success for the country without a tennis tradition and without tennis system.

So we actually didn't have enough good conditions and facilities to stay in the country, so I was practicing in Germany. Ana Ivanovic was practicing in Switzerland. Jelena Jankovic in the States. So everybody was going somewhere else and following their way. And it just happened accidentally that we got this. We had ‑‑ everybody had a little bit of the help from the federation and country, but it was nothing. There was no help.


Q. The snowball effect of one player leads to more interest from young players?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Right now we have. I think we are the nation of the team sports. Now individual sports has come and people are very interested to play it, and professionally as well. There is a lot, a lot of kids in the last year, year and a half that I know that started playing tennis because of us.

I think we have a lot of talent for sport, you know, in general. So I hope because we still don't have a tennis center, national tennis center, which is really necessary for us if we want to ‑‑ not just particularly for us, for the players who are on the top of the men's and women's tennis, but I think it's most important for the kids, you know, for the talent so they can have an easier way with their careers.


Q. And coaches?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: And coaches as well, yeah.


Q. Sort of along those same lines, I understand you played your last Davis Cup tie in a very small stadium on a very bad road in a suburb of Belgrade. Is that sort of symbolic of where you're at right now? You've got great players, you've swept that tie and yet you're still playing in rather substandard circumstances?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I wouldn't say that that is the real picture of where we are. Unfortunately, in that moment it was that kind of situation where we couldn't, you know, play in some other bigger indoors. We had to play indoors because we had the opponent which we decided to play indoors on clay. So that was a pretty bad situation for us. We had no options and everything was organized very fast. So it didn't look well. The court was pretty bad.

But, you know, you have to look forward and you have to look in the future and what is going to happen. Now we had luck in the draw that we have Davis Cup playoff tie against Australia at home. So now we are playing at the arena, actually a basketball arena where they have concerts and everything. And that arena, in that arena, I think 20 thousands people can fit. So I think it's going to be a huge, huge crowd and it's going to be great. So I'm just really looking forward to it.


Q. Do you ever have the feeling everything is happening a little too fast, maybe, for the sport in your country?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I think as long as it goes this way, I don't think that somebody is really concerned.


Q. When you're talking about your opponent today, you talked about the important of mental strength to go far in the game. What importance will the defeat have to Federer on Nadal, do you think? Do you think that will effect his approach to this tournament his mentality?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: You are talking about Federer's thinking?


Q. You talked about mental strength earlier.

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yes.


Q. Obviously Nadal lost for the first time on clay to Federer. Will that effect him in your opinion?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I think you need to ask him that question. But on my side, I can say only that defeat of Nadal in Hamburg final gave, you know, Federer and everybody else something to believe more. You believe more that we can beat this guy on this surface, and that's all.


Q. One more question on the development of tennis. There are so many of you, and of course no one would ask you to spend your own money to build a center. But are there businesses big enough that you could partner, a group of you could get together to partner with a business to build a center?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I don't think that that is exact question for me. I mean, you have a lot of business people in our country, and I think it's first on them to solve that problem. We had ‑‑ our mission is to develop the tennis in our country and to make a big result, so the people can get interest. That's what we did.

So we did everything that was on our side. Now it's their turn, so we'll see what happens.


Q. Before you serve, you bounce the ball a lot. Maybe more than any other player. I counted 15 today.

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yeah.


Q. Why?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I know everybody makes fun of me because of that, but yesterday I was a bit embarrassed. I played the first round, I was bouncing the ball, and then I had some bad bounce, and the ball went away, and everybody smiled.

Well, it's difficult to explain, really. That only happens on clay, believe it or not. But, you know, because on clay, I'm really ‑‑ I'm thinking a lot of things in my head, and thinking it's because of the focus. I'm trying to concentrate for my serve.

And I know that on clay, I have to play long points, you know. I'm getting to the long matches, so I'm trying to do a lot with the serve. I think my serve helped me in these first two matches. I had a really good percentage, and really good serve, and that is, I think, the best shot I have here in the French Open.

So, you know, I'll try to make it faster so the crowd, you know, cannot make fun of me anymore.
 

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