Sunday, May 25, 2008
Interview with Novak Djokovic
Q. Gremelmayr is better than his ranking. A very
undervalued player. But did you perhaps make it a
little bit easier for him today until you finally
got control of the fourth set?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yeah, I wasn't underestimating my
opponent, even though it looked like that in the
first set, the way I was playing. So I agree with
the fact that his game is better than his ranking at
this moment, and he's recently been playing some
He played a couple of semifinals in good
tournaments, and he played some three sets with
Roger Federer. So I knew that he's a tough player to
play against on this surface.
But, you know, this was one of the days when you
just can't put your game in the direction that you
want it to be. And always those first rounds on the
bigger events are the tricky ones, a lot of
It wasn't easy, you know, but it's good to go
Q. How did you prepare this week? I read you had to
do an appearance at the Eurovision contest. Did that
maybe take something off of your concentration, or
did you have enough time to practice?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: No, I think I had enough time. I
feel good, even though I had a tough match,
two‑and‑a‑half hours. Physically I feel well. I've
been working hard in last six, seven weeks on my
physical strength just to prepare well for the
Roland Garros. Because this is the most important
event for I think every player on this surface. But,
you know, it's understandable sometimes to have
pretty bad performances.
I'm not happy with the way I played, but, you know,
you always have to look positive and try to think in
the right direction and hope for the best.
Q. You did well last year, obviously, at the Grand
Slams and things. A year ago you had been hoping to
be maybe No. 1 or one of the best. What does it feel
like now that most people consider you and Roger and
Rafa pretty well even? How do you feel about that?
Did it change your life very much?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yeah. It's good to hear that the
people are talking about more than two ‑‑ only two
players. I mean, last couple months I've been
playing some great tennis, achieving fantastic
results in the most important events and the major
events, Masters Series and Grand Slams, which is the
aim for me.
I'll just try to be consistent, you know. I know
that there is a lot of, of course, media attention
and attention from a lot of tennis lovers. They're
hoping for, you know, some changes in the rankings,
There was some opportunities in Hamburg already, but
I don't want to pay attention too much on that, you
know. I'm going to lose the focus if I do that.
Q. How does it actually feel now? Is it different to
be one of the best three or maybe even the best
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Sure. People appreciate more. Pay
you more respect. As a Grand Slam champion, you gain
a lot of positive things and confidence on the top,
so you approach things much easier.
Q. When he broke back at 5‑4 in the third, you lost
six points in a row. Were you nervous at the time?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yeah, sure. I wasn't on my top
level, as I said before. And when you're not playing
the way you imagine to play, then there's a lot of
things going on in the head, of course.
He came from 5‑1 to 5‑4, and then suddenly I started
serving bad and he started going for the shots. He
started playing well. All the credit to him. He was
being really aggressive.
He surprised me a little bit on the start of the
match. He used his opportunities, so I managed to
come back through. So it's an encouraging fact for
continuation of the tournament.
Q. Do you have memories of Guga when he was winning
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yeah, sure. Especially the one when
he drew the heart on the court. It was really
emotional for him, of course in the first place, and
for everybody watching. He's a very positive, very
positive guy, great personality, and just everybody
loves him. I don't know even one guy who says
something bad about him.
So the sport is going to miss him, of course, and I
wish him all the best. Hopefully he can get far in
Q. A moment ago you said you didn't feel like you
played very well. When you feel like you're not
playing well, what does that mean? Does that mean
not striking the ball well? Does it mean not winning
certain points? What does that mean to you?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: A lot of things combined, you know.
But the most important thing is that you win when
you play bad, so there's not many players that have
Q. Would you rather play well and win 4 and 4, or
play poorly and win 2 and 2?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Next question, please.
Q. Do you feel extra pressure because you are first
in the race and you won the first Slam?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, pressure is always there. But
as a third player of the world and Grand Slam
champion and first player in the race this year, of
course there is a lot of expectations.
It's normal. But now it's a matter of my mental
ability to cope with that pressure in the best
possible way. So far I've been doing great. Pressure
is a challenge, so you just have to accept it.
Q. This the first day. First day we see the
conditions and things. Can you describe the
conditions just in terms of the balls and the court
and stuff, and also, in comparison to how it would
be for anybody, not just you playing against Nadal?
He's viewed as the toughest guy. What are the
conditions like for playing against him?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: It's quite different than the last
couple of tournaments I played on clay. We played
with ATP, had balls, and they're much different than
the ones we play here, Dunlop, at Roland Garros.
It's tough to control, honestly saying, here. The
balls are bouncing, they're smaller, and that makes
them much, much faster. And then the conditions are
different at Roland Garros than in Hamburg and Rome,
because here it's pretty fast comparing to Hamburg
where it's pretty slow.
So you just ‑‑ you just need time. I think I still
didn't, you know, didn't get used to it 100% the way
I should. But it's good to win the first round and
to play a bit tougher match longer with longer
rallies so you can get used to the conditions.
Q. Gremelmayr's speed can make you a little
impatient sometimes on the court. But on one point
when you were not impatient, I think it was the
second set long, kept retrieving everything you hit.
Finally you hit the overhead and flopped across the
net. What were your emotions there as you lay across
the net at the end of that point?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I was happy to win the long
point, you know. I think you're always are ‑‑ you
always are happy to win such a great point, and it's
nice. You know, the crowd saluted in a great way.
But, again, there was a lot of those rallies. In the
most important moments I managed to stay calm and
just play the way I imagined to play, so it's good.