Novak Djokovic - Round 1 Press Conference

Written By Lingkar Dunia on Monday, January 16, 2012 | 8:48 PM

Q.  How important is it for you to save yourself in the first round?  Is it something you're thinking about when you're on the court, or you don't think at all about it?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Obviously I want to get a good start of the year in my first official match in this season.  I have decided not to play the opening week of the year in order to get ready well for Melbourne.  I'm satisfied with the overall performance today. It took me, you know, a couple games to get into the right rhythm.  You know, it's a bit difficult conditions.  I think it was really the hottest day since I've arrived here, so trying to get used to that.  But, you know, I think I played well after the first set was finished.

Q.  You touched on the conditions.  Were they pretty unbearable out there?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Well, they were okay, you know.  I think, as I said, you just need a little bit more time to get used to them because, you know, last 10 days or so since I arrived in Melbourne was quite cold, you know, outside, and very windy. Today was I think around 35 degrees, so it took a bit of time to get used to the heat. But, you know, I'm quite happy physically the way I'm handling the heat.

Q.  Anything you can do about it or you try to do differently in your approach?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Well, you know, there is obviously a couple things you can do well.  It's obviously important to prepare well, I guess physically build up that endurance and strength in order to feel well on the court, and to bear the conditions, whatever they are.

Q.  A lot has been said over the past two or three days for the push for change at the top of the men's game.  Do you have any feelings on that yourself?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Well, you know, I don't think that whatever I will say will be something new, you know, something that we don't know.  It's obvious that there is a lot of players in men's tennis that are, you know, complaining about a schedule and season. They don't even need to say much.  But just looking in the injuries that we have, especially from the top players, including myself, you know, I felt that towards the end of last year, you know, it's obvious that we need some change.  But I prefer talking, you know, in details about these things more behind closed doors.

Q.  You came to the net a lot of times today.  Is it a new direction you want to take for your game?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Yes.  You know, when you're 3-, 4-Love up, why not try some other things, something, you know, that is not characteristic for your game.  But I am definitely working on my net game, approach the short balls as much as I can, and take my chances.

Q.  Are you looking at your draw?  How is it going?  What are the options that you have?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  I try to look always at the next opponent, but I definitely look all the tennis matches, as I think all the players, once we're in the tournaments, when we rest back at the hotel room, when we have time, we turn on the TV and watch all the top guys, men's and women's matches.  This is our life, and it's our job, as well.

Q.  In terms of steps forward, you've taken two very big ones here in Melbourne winning the event.  Which one do you think was bigger to getting you to where you are now, 12 months ago or four years ago?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Well, it's hard to say because they were two different, I think, situations, occasions.  Because I feel right now - as I said on the court - I feel much more complete as a player, you know, and as a person as well.  Mentally I've gained a lot of experience playing at the top level in last couple of years.  I finished the year as No. 3 the last four years.  It helped me a lot to understand the game better, to understand what I need to do in order to win major events.  But I think the crucial thing that changed from me winning 2008 and last year is that I get onto the court believing in my abilities more than I did back then and playing more consistent, playing well on a consistent level throughout the whole year, rather than in 2008, you know, I had a lot of ups and downs.

You know, I think it was a learning process for me in last couple of years.  I just have more confidence that I'm playing on right now.  I just believe that I can win, especially against the biggest rivals in the major events.  You know, just keeping the same routine, keeping the same discipline like last couple years towards the sport.

Q.  Was beating Rafa on the clay courts not really a surprise -- or maybe it was a surprise for you.  Maybe that was the ultimate test that you had gone up another level last year.

NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  It was definitely one of the biggest tests that I had, to really find out, you know, how far I can go, how well am I playing actually.  Clay court events, especially those three weeks in a row that I have won in my hometown tournament, Belgrade, then Madrid and Rome back to back, and winning against the best player ever to play the game on that surface, in finals, was definitely a big confidence boost for me.

Q.  Did you measure yourself against Andy Murray up until maybe 12 months ago?  Do you think you saw yourself against him in terms of your career?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Well, particularly against him, not really.  But, you know, we definitely, yes, always kind of looked at each other as players and friends and somebody who you grew up with, you know.  We played a lot of junior events.  I think we played first time under-12 in France.  So we have long careers and we know each other for a really long time.  We practiced and played doubles many times.  It's really nice, you know, to see, not just us two, but other players from our generations, one year younger, are doing so well, like Del Potro, you know, and these guys.

I think it's always good for the sport to see a new wave of young players coming up.

Q.  Where do you think you've got the edge in results on him in the last 12 months or two years?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Well, you know, I think he has proven on many occasions that he's one of the world's best players.  You know, maybe the difference is the major events, just the titles that I have won, you know, and he lost three finals.  Look, you know, that's sport.  That's something that maybe in coming years his time is coming.  I wouldn't be surprised if he comes up with a couple Grand Slam titles in these next couple years.

Q.  If you hadn't had the 41 matches in a row going into the semifinal with Roger at the French, do you think you would have had more chance to win that match?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  It's hard to say really.  I think everything happens for the reason, for a reason.  I knew that the streak will come to an end at some time.  But I was rather having a lot of very positive thinking about, you know, how long the streak will go, not when it will end.  I think that helped me to have that right mental set and to approach every single match with a hundred percent focus and determination.

You know, I don't have any regrets.  Obviously, I was disappointed after losing that match.  I think it was a very important match.  It was a chance for me to, you know, even become No. 1 and to play for the first time in my life in the finals of Roland Garros.  But he played better that day.  But I think for me the positive period in that year, I think the crucial period, came after that match when I managed to, you know, come back and play as well as I did in Wimbledon.

Q.  Do you think to form a union of the tennis players is good for the sport of tennis?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  It's a question mark because there is a lot of different players with a lot of different opinions.  So we will have to take a lot more discussions and see what is the best option for all of us.

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