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21/01/2011 07:02 CEST - AUSTRALIAN OPEN

Novak Djokovic (21 Gennaio)

Novak Djokovic

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Q. Were you aware that he was injured before the match?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I just heard that he had some struggles with his stomach muscle. But, you know, I wasn't sure how serious it is. You know, I didn't know that he's not able to serve.
After the match he told me that he could not make a full movement of the serve that he usually does. I could see that, because he serves well over 200, you know, first serving average, and he couldn't do that today.
He obviously tried his best. It's the third round of a Grand Slam. It's not the way you want to finish the tournament, definitely. You know, it's sad for him. But I have to move on.

Q. Did you need to have a complete game today or are you happy with the one set?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: You know, I think I had enough tennis already the last couple weeks. It's good that, you know, you don't spend that much time on the court, maybe save some energy.
But I'm going to be ready for next match.

Q. You're moving quietly through the tournament. Is this suiting you? Not many people talking about you.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yeah, I like it this way. I'm there to do my job. Obviously, the matches are starting to be more difficult. You will have higher ranked opponents and I'm ready for that challenge.

Q. Can you tell how tough it is for a player to come from the junior level to this circuit like you did and some other players did?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: We don't notice that many young players in the top 50, top 100 in the last two, three years, which is sad for the sport. But maybe it's just a period. I'm sure that we'll see some new faces coming up in the near future.
But it's definitely very difficult to make the transition from junior tour and circuit to the professional because you have to go through this ice breaker, as you can call it, the futures, the satellites and challengers, the lower level of the professional tournaments where you don't get to play in very nice places, you don't have the best conditions. But you have to go through it. It makes you much stronger.
This is where I guess you're building up your mentality, as well. You're becoming stronger mentally. You know, if you're able to get through that stage, then just break through in top hundred.
I think nowadays it's more difficult than it was maybe five, ten years ago.

Q. The game is still the same but maybe it's more physical when you arrive to this level?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Absolutely. You know, it's much more physical than it was when I was breaking through and everybody is working really hard. You know, the technology has advanced a lot, as well. You have great racquets, great strings. There are some great hitters out there. You have to be on top of your shape and you have to be dedicated in order to be one of the best.

Q. Do you have to work more in physical conditioning or in technical conditioning? What do you think you can improve the most?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I think you need to have a physical base. Not just myself, but anybody has to rely on his physical condition. As I said, it's a very requiring sport. You have to travel, change surfaces, time zones, countries in just a couple days' time. It's not easy definitely. But it is the way it is and you have to adjust.
So physically you have to be fit because then you have a base. From that moment, from that point on, you have to work obviously on your mental part. You work that through a lot of matches, playing a lot of tournaments, and gaining experience.

Q. Obviously you're focused on your next round. Do you keep an eye in Grand Slam tournaments on what your traditional rivals are doing? For instance, Federer a couple days ago struggled.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Everybody is watching matches. It's nice to have tennis on the TV the whole day. Of course, you know, I'm following all these guys, the way they play. But, you know, I'm not paying too much attention on that. I just follow their matches but focus on my matches.

Q. You talked in one of the earlier press conferences about how you're in this small group of players behind Rafa and Roger who are trying to challenge them. Can you talk a little bit more about what makes their game so much different from other players', why it's different to face Rafa or Roger.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: If I know the answer, I wouldn't be in this position (laughter). No, I'm kidding, of course.
They are physically very fit and mentally very strong. You know, what is amazing about their games, about their mentality when they're on the court is the way they approach matches. They don't underestimate any opponent. They always play in full speed, especially Nadal. It seems like they're raising their level of performance, you know, in the second week of the Grand Slams. It's really hard to play them best of five, especially the last couple rounds of a Grand Slam. I'm talking about from my personal experience because I have played them many times in the late stages of any tournament, especially Grand Slams. So I know. I guess that's it.
You know, there is not much difference. I guess here and there a couple of points are deciding the winner. They're just hanging in there all the time. They're not giving up. This mental strength is I guess a big advantage over the other opponents.

Q. How do you become mentally stronger as a tennis player?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I think over the time, playing a lot of matches on the big stage, playing those tight matches that are decided in a couple of points with big, strong top players. You try to get the best out of it. You try to get the experience that you can use in the future.

Q. Have you improved and are you closing the gap on them?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I feel that I'm improving. I still feel there's room for improvement. I think you can never reach perfection. You always try to be better. That's my goal. I'm still only 23, so I believe there is a lot of time still to have some success.

Q. When Simon beat Troicki in Sydney, did you think, Good for us?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: In a way, yes.

Q. Do you think it was a mistake?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I wouldn't get into that. The important thing is that we won and that we brought the first Davis Cup title to our country, and that's it.

Q. I have a question about Jim Courier. What is it like to be interviewed by him? What is your opinion about him in his new role?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: As a commentator?

Q. Yes.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I think he's doing a great job. I like listening to him, especially when he gets excited after long rallies.

Q. And when he makes the interview?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yeah, he gives us great questions. He mixes it up. Of course, we always get the standard tennis questions and then he makes a little fun out of it. It's good for the crowd. They want to hear that.


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