# Cincinnati, 16th August 2011, Preview
Q. I know you get these questions a lot nowadays, but talk your impressive season and how you've been able to stay so strong throughout.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, yes, the season was more than great; it was fantastic, and still is going. I have no intention of stopping here. I still have a great desire and great motivation to win every single match that I play on.
I think just keeping the things very simple in my daily routine helped me a lot to come back, even though after I had a long rest, come back very strong.
And I played a really, really good tournament in Montréal.
Q. If you could pick one aspect of the setting of the table last year coming into this year, whether it's the US Open final or the Davis Cup Championship, what would that be?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Look, there were a couple of matches that helped me to get to where I am. Probably Davis Cup was one of them, and the US Open tournament overall.
But just, you know, in the second part of 2010 I felt that I'm getting my game back. I felt that I'm just feeling more comfortable on the court, I have more self-belief, and I just know what to do.
It was a matter of time when I got all things together for me mentally and physically. That was the case, you know.
Really, since the beginning of the year I have been really sharp on the court, believing that I can win the big matches, and using the experience that I had in the last three, four years.
Q. You've been beating Nadal like a drum this year. What's your secret against him specifically? Because he was No. 1 before you. How have you been doing it so consistently to beat him on so many different surfaces?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, obviously with a different surface the different adjustment comes into play and different tactics. But we played so many matches against each other that we know each other really well. There is no secrets.
Against the top players at the top level, it always comes down to a very few points that decide the winner. But that's why I think in the end this is a very mental sport. You know, that's why you need to have a lot of self-belief on the court, that you know that you have quality to beat the best players in the world.
That was the case, more or less. There were matches when I played against him this summer on clay when I wasn't feeling physically great, but I was just stepping in and believing that my shots are good enough to win against him.
You know, I think that that brought me the success.
Q. What do you think separates the very good returner of serve from the great returners of serve? What do the great ones do or what's the key?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I don't think it's only the return we are talking about here. It's what comes after that. I think how you, you know, position yourself after a return for the point. I think that's crucial.
Again, we're all great tennis players. I think there is not much difference game-wise between the top players and maybe the top 20, top 30 players in the world. We are all working very hard on the court, spending a lot hours and putting a lot work into tennis and into physical condition and everything.
But in the end, it's the ability to cope with the pressure, ability to, you know, sustain that confidence and to go for the shots when you need to.
It's experience in the end. If you play many matches, many big matches on a big stage, then you somehow feel after a while comfortable when you step on the big courts.
Q. After you won Wimbledon this year, there was talk on ESPN about the gluten free diet. Talk about your off-court eating habits and how that helps you.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: It helped. You know, I changed my diet, and...
Q. From what to what?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Gluten free officially.
Q. Yeah, but I mean from what...
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I cannot tell you everything. There are things that I keep for myself. How can I explain this simply? Gluten free pasta, rice.
The way people were assessing that was as that diet was the major impact on my success, and it wasn't.
It was a change that helped me, but I think that just the overall assessment of my success is my agility as a player, as a person. I got stronger in a couple elements in my game and I just got better.
I think that was the whole key.
Q. You've defeated Mardy Fish. He's come a long way, too. Talk about what you think of him right now.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I think he's playing the best tennis of his career, to be honest. I have been competing with him for the last couple of years, and, you know, he moves much better on the court nowadays and he's fitter.
I think mentally he just believes it more against top players. He was obviously unfortunate in our last match couple days ago in Montréal, you know, where it was a very even match, three sets.
But he's right up there, you know. He's a top 10 player of the world, he's the top American, and he deserves to be there.
Q. What's the funnest or most interesting thing you've got to do since became No. 1?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I didn't have any funny, crazy things that I've done. It was more necessary for me to have a good rest and good holiday.
So after Wimbledon I went for Davis Cup; that was wild. But after the Davis Cup I took some time off, about two weeks, and then I started preparing.
You see, it hasn't changed much for me. My approach is really the same. My routine, you know, preparation for tournaments, practices, nothing has changed really. It's all the same.
I think that helps me to, you know, stay where I am, to stay grounded, to stay focused, and to stay determined and professional.
I think it's the only way for me to be able to hold this place where I am. There is a lot of temptations, of course. There is more attention from the world of sport towards me and my career.
But I think with a really good group of people that is around me, I'm handling it well.
Q. Talk about your airplane ad a little bit.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Airplane?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I wouldn't recommend anybody to do that really. It was a crazy experience. I did it five months ago, though.
Q. Talk about changes that you made to your serve. Roddick thinks you've improved that a lot in recent years. You lost to him last year here.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yeah, well, I agree. You know, that's one of the shots in my game that I have improved by a small percentage, but still it helped me a lot to get to where I am.
But it was the hard work that I put in over this period of let's say 12 to 15 months in which I struggled a lot with that stroke in my game. Since I changed the racquet, I had some difficulties to get to the old habit of serving to the old movement. I changed completely the technique for no reason. Once it gets into your head, it's really hard to get it back.
But I was patient. I was patient and working with my coach on the mental side and putting a lot hours in on the court, and here it goes. I think it's really helpful at this level on any surface to get some free points on the serve.
Q. You recently were awarded a very prestigious religious award. How has your faith played a role in your life?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Interesting question. I think it plays an important role in my life, not just in tennis. You know, faith is something that you always to have keep, it always has to be present, regardless in what situation and condition you are.
You know, there were times that I was struggling mentally and emotionally, especially about a year, year and a half ago, and I really didn't know if I can make it, if I can get it No. 1.
You know, there was a lot of things that were affecting my game and affecting my career that I was trying to clear up, and I did. I did because I had faith in myself and I fought my way through.
Q. The more you win, seems the more crowded your player' box gets, especially at Grand Slam events. Do you find you're actually having to turn people away? How do you handle all of those people just wanting to watch your matches, not necessarily from your family, from the outside?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yes, well, you know, it's not easy to handle, definitely, that many people. But, look, it was first Wimbledon finals; last year was US Open final. So I did have lots of people that wanted to come, friends of the family and lots of people who want to support.
Of course it's always nice when you have a big support, but sometimes it gets too crowded. So I ensure you I will not have that many people ever again.
# Cincinnati, 17th August 2011, R2: Djokovic def. Harrison 6-2, 6-3
Q. Kind of an odd way to start the match with so many breaks of serve.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yeah.
Q. Did that affect the way that you played?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, it was a slow start, not a good start. But, yeah, I was serving not so great today. I think everything else was quite good.
You know, from the baseline I wasn't making a lot of unforced errors. I was returning a lot of balls in and played quite good really for the opening match.
But I knew it's an opening match. It's totally different conditions from Montréal, so you got to get used to that.
Q. Could you compare the conditions from last week to this week, the speed of the courts?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Faster. Much faster here. Ball flies through the air faster, so it's really hard to control.
Q. Do you prefer this week to last week?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I prefer last week. (Smiling.)
Q. When other players who have been around longer and are more established talk about Ryan Harrison coming up, what do they say about him - including yourself?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Look, Ryan has a lot of potential in his game, I think. He knows when to use the opportunity to come to the net, he mixes up his serve, his serve is quite good. Today he didn't have quite a high first serve percentage, so it didn't help him that much.
But if he gets that serve 60%, 70% in, he can be really dangerous to anybody. I think he's a great fighter. He's committed to the game, which is really important.
Q. When you see his anger that he shows so often during matches, do you think that hurts his development?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Look, I don't think there is anything bad with that. Over the time, he's going to learn how to use his experience on the court. He will learn how to control his emotions. It's all a process.
His emotions are showing me that he wants to win and he's out there to win, not just play his best tennis. That's something that I like about him.
Q. What's your opinion of back-to-back Masters 1000s? Would you like to see them spread out?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: The way the schedule is, I don't think that's possible. There has to be some radical changes in the schedule if we want that. I don't see that happening.
But, yeah, I don't think it's very good for the players to play all the time on the top level every single day in two weeks just before the Grand Slam.
But that's the way it goes. It's not the first year we have that. You know, you have to just adjust to it.
Q. What were you not happy with in your game tonight?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I just said. It was the serve. Everything else was okay.
Q. I have a follow-up to a question you answered yesterday about the players' box at the Open final last year or the Wimbledon final this year. When you looked up in the box, were there any faces you did not recognize, that you did not necessarily know who the people were?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, look, you know, I really don't want to get into that. I don't want to get into the details. I said yesterday, and I'm going to repeat again: I had too many people, and it was somehow expected because all those people, the ones that were close to me and the friends of my family, they wanted to be there because it's my first Wimbledon finals and US Open.
But, you know, now it's going to be a bit different.
Q. Another player told me he finds it disconcerting when he looks up and sees someone who hasn't necessarily been on the journey with him; is that how you feel?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Depends. I cannot answer in the name of other players. You know, I don't really pay too much attention on who's in my box rather than my team. When I look in my box, I look to my coach, to the closest ones on the team. I think most of the players do.
So regardless who's there, I need to do my job on the court and to win.
Q. Do you feel that your game is where it needs to be before the US Open? Rafa's is the defending champion, but you beat him several times this year, and on hardcourts. Do you think you're ready to go in there and try and get back to the final and win it this time?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yes, I think so.
Q. You've had such an incredible year and you've set all these records and have a very good win/loss record. On the other hand, Serena Williams who is considered the US Open favorite on the women's side at this point pulled out of this tournament to get herself in better shape to play the US Open. With that in mind, is it important for you to keep this one loss through this week and to win this tournament, or is it more about getting ready for New York?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: You know, performing the best tennis is the priority in New York. But still, I will not, you know, play matches on this tournament just to get some practice. I don't do that. I go to every match to win.
So since I came here, I will give my best to every match to win. So we'll see how far I can go. I am not predicting anything.
But, you know, in the past years I did play couple of finals here and then I got to the late stages of the US Open, so it's not something that I think can affect my performance on the US Open physically as well.
There is still a week, which is more than enough for me to rest and get ready.
Q. When you were in L.A. recently, did you have a chance to hit with Sampras or anything like that? I know he was a player you looked up to.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yes, unfortunately not. He got hurt on golf, but we had a nice dinner in L.A. and it was a very a valuable experience for me.
Q. Did he give you any advice on how to handle No. 1?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yes.
Q. What did he say?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: We spoke about many things, and of course I was interested how he was feeling when everything got together for him, when he won his first couple Grand Slams, when he became No. 1.
It was great. He was always the person that I was looking up to. He was always the tennis player that was my idol. So to be able to sit down with him and have the opportunity to get advice from him, hopefully I can use that experience.
Q. Do you want to play him in an exhibition?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Would love to. Would love to just hit with him. I'm always open for that.
Q. Who picked up the check at dinner? (Laughter.)
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: It was Pete. He was the host.
Q. When you go to New York, you're going to see these giant buss billboards with your picture on it advertising the US Open. What's it like to be the face of tennis now?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: It's flattering and it's great. You know, I guess that's something that follows up with the success and with the position that I have at this moment as No. 1.
I know that there is a certain increase in the responsibility of me carrying myself on and off the court. I'm trying to do it as best as I can.
It's all fresh, it's all new, but it's a challenge. I'm ready to accept that.
Q. Jelena was saying the other day about getting a diplomatic passport and being a goodwill ambassador. Have you got something similar to that?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yeah.
Q. Over the years, have you felt that the success that Serbian tennis players have had, the girls as well, has that changed, do you think, the world's perception of Serbia and the image of the country? Is that something you've been happy to see or been conscious of?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, as far as I know, in the world of sport, I think we have done a good job in changing the image positively. We were doing our best. You know, it's not an easy task to do, but tennis players and other athletes in Serbia are, I think, the biggest ambassadors of our country at this moment.
The country is aware of that, and giving us diplomatic passports was one of appreciation moves I think they have. We are honored to have these passports. It makes our traveling a bit easier, and of course we do carry this responsibility everywhere we go to represent or country in the best possible way.
* Ryan's presser
Lots of match analysis.