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Novak Djokovic, US Open, August 27, 2008
   

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Novak Djokovic

US Open

August 27, 2008



Q. How is your ankle?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Right away. Let's cut to the chase (laughter.)

Well, it's okay. It's going to be good in two days, I'm sure. After that happened, I was thinking more of it than I was really actually feeling the pain, so it's not really a big deal. But in that certain moment, I felt big pain, so I just had to tape the ankle.

But it's going to be all right.


Q. Happy with the match, the way things went out there today?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yeah, yeah. Always these first rounds in the Grand Slams, best of five, having tough opponent as Clement is; running all over the place and making you earn the points, which is not easy, of course, on any surface to play against him. I knew that, so I just had to be consistent and try to make high percentage of the first serves in.

I put a lot of pressure on him with serving well. I didn't return so well, you know. I had a lot of ups and downs and big frustrations. But it's the first match. It's always the trickiest one, but hopefully the next one will be better.


Q. You captured the hearts of so many fans out there. You were such a fan favorite, and, you know, to be back here, be back out on Stadium Court, has it sort of become a place that you've come to love, kind of considering last year's experiences?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, of course, you always like to come back to the place where you did well and you had a lot of success and a lot of great memories, and this is one of them. This is one of the best, the best places, you know, I've experienced, and best tennis sites. It's the biggest court, biggest stadium in the sport, and it's always a big pleasure, and, of course, experience to play every time on it.

Last year's final was just remarkable and unexplainable, you know. The moment when we got into the court and 23,000 people stood up, so it's just some moments you can't forget in your life. I'm happy that the people remember me in a good way ‑ more for my imitations than for my tennis, but it's all right. It's good to be back.


Q. How much different of a person and a player are you as you arrived here this year as opposed to how you felt about yourself and your game when you arrived here last year, having reached that final and winning a Grand Slam?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, that was kind of a turning point in my career last year, playing the finals of US Open, and I started believing more after the finals that I really can win. I was pretty close in that match, even though I lost in straight sets.

I knew, you know, it was a matter of time. I just needed to work hard and really dedicate myself to it. So that's what I did, and I had really hard five weeks of preparation last winter, and it paid off. You know, I had the best season so far in my career, and I have a different approach to the tournaments, to the Grand Slams, because as a Grand Slam winner, you feel a little relief, and you gain much more confidence, you know, getting to the major events.


Q. Over this last year, you've had so many more people pay attention to what you're doing and follow you closer. Even when you hurt your ankle today, there was quiet in the crowd. Do you enjoy the increased attention? I mean, how do you approach that?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I do enjoy, you know. It's normal with the success, the attention from the fans and from all the tennis, all the people involved in tennis, you know. It's normal. It's normal to get all this attention. It comes.

But you just have to make a balance in your life. It's all about balance. If you can enjoy what you do, you know, and love what you do. Every person is different. Every person has a different character, different personality. I like to have fun on the court, as you can see in the last year or so. And making more success logically gets more attention, and everybody's watching what I do. So I have to be more careful, right? (laughter.)


Q. Well, I mean, to follow up, what's the best part of it and maybe what's, you know, maybe not so good about it, from your experience?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, it's always nice to get the compliments and to feel important, to feel that people appreciate what you've done. Of course, that's a good part of it. The other hand, you lose some things ‑ you lose your private life, of course. It depends which country you are.

So it's all part of the life, all part of the sport, and you have to get used to it.


Q. Today Jelena was on the court almost an hour more than you were. Were you surprised that, you know, that match went as long as it did? And how does that affect when you're just in the locker room not knowing whether you should eat something or what was that like?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yeah, well, it's going on and off, warming up, but that's tennis. It can turn around in a split of a second. Yeah, she had a tough match, but she won.

You know, I need to follow up; I always have the same routine, more or less, and try to be ready, warmed up, and fed up, you know, and everything before the match before me starts. So you never know what's going to happen.


Q. Back to the Olympics, you showed big emotion when you lost to Nadal in the semifinal, which is quite different compared to other occasions you played with him. Why is that?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, because I accepted Olympics as a special event, and I played with a lot of emotions there.

I really wanted to go all the way, and I think I had the game for it, and I really played on a high level throughout the Olympics. And I was fighting for it, you know. There are tournaments where you just really want to give 110% of your ability to go all the way through.

So I was really close, and I knew that, and it was more or less all about one or two points. I just couldn't hold my emotions. It was different.


Q. Last year you came in after that, the great tournament in Montreal, I think, made you somebody recognizable to a lot of the American tennis fans who maybe didn't know that much about you prior to that. And you came in obviously on a high because of that, and you were, you know, you showed a lot of your own personality, the impersonations and the entertainment on court and so forth. This year you come in as a Grand Slam winner, a finalist here last year, as well, somebody who made a great run at the Olympics. How different is it? It's only one year separated, and yet it's quite a different gateway into this tournament than it was a year ago, isn't it?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, it is. As I was mentioning before, as a Grand Slam you have a different approach to all the major events, especially the Grand Slams. So what I try is to, you know, keep my confidence on a high level; be always motivated to win. I'm only 21.

Again, I had a lot of success, but still, there is many years to come, hopefully if I'm healthy enough. I want to win more Grand Slams. I want to achieve my lifetime goal. There is a lot of things I want to do and achieve in my life. So there is no lack of motivation. That's for sure.

But, you know, I always want people to remember me, of course, as a tennis player, as a great tennis player, a champion, whatever. I don't want them to remember me as a clown.


Q. What are your thoughts on many, many, many tennis people saying they'd love to see a rematch of the Wimbledon final, those other two guys?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I'll make sure they don't have it. (laughter.)


Q. You said you don't want to be remembered as a clown. Is that something in that you try and keep in check? Maybe last year it was all fun, there was some fun and games and so forth. Maybe this year, have you actually put some walls around yourself and said, look, this is serious business, you know, I can't be quite as...

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, the people, the thing is that the people may be ‑‑ before I won a Grand Slam the people thought of me, okay, as a big joker of the sport and a big potential and pretty good player, but still I wasn't able to make that step forward and win a Grand Slam and just prove. I did this year.

So I did prove I have enough quality to be potential Grand Slam winner on any surface I play on, so this is the most important thing for me.


Q. Now that you've won one major, Novak, do you find yourself being impatient to win a second one, too?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: No. I just want to go slowly, step by step. I was saying even before, there is a lot of pressure involved and a lot of expectations, but it's all part of the sport, and you just have to deal with it in the best possible way. And I know I play well on all surfaces; I'm an all‑around player. I've been playing my best tennis on all the major events and on the Grand Slams which is the most important thing, so I'll try to keep that up.

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