Exclusive interview with Novak in Umag
Novak Djokovic exclusive interview
Andre Jones / 08:24am, 24-07-2006
Fresh from his inaugural tournament title win in Amersfoort, Holland, Serbian number 1 Novak Djokovic, seeded 4 here in Umag, was looking relaxed, tanned and remarkably casual in his tee-shirt, snazzy bermuda shorts and flip-flops when I caught up with him for a chat. The good looking 19 year old Serb who is destined for the very top is rising fast up the rankings and is currently at a career high of 28.
Novak Djokovic, British number 1. How soon can we expect to hear this as your official title?
I have to tell you that you have made a mistake (smiling); I am Serbian number 1, fortunately, not British number 1.
You have just won your first title (Dutch Open) and you are now in the top 30, that’s got to feel good.
This is a great success for me, the first title of my career. Especially at this stage of my career, just 19 years old, coming from a country that does not have a great tennis tradition it is difficult to succeed. I hope this tournament in Amersfoort will be the first step towards a great career in which I want to make my life goal, which is to be the number 1 player in the world. I know that may sound unrealistic, but I believe I have the quality to achieve this goal. To be number 1 is the highest achievement that you can make, and I just try to stay in this way that I am in right now and hope that I can make it there.
I feel really happy because I just won my first title and I feel a bit relieved. I had a lot of expectations from everyone to win my first title and now I won it I feel a bit relieved. I’m top 30 right now which was my goal for this year, and so I have to set a new goal for the top 20. But I don’t need to look too much for this goal, I need to stay focused and try to play my best tennis, and that’s what I have been doing these past 3 or 4 months.
How excited are you to be back here in Umag?
Umag is one of my favourite tournaments, I’ve been coming here now 3 years in a row; it is very relaxed, the people are very kind, they accept me here which is very nice. The tournament director is very kind to me, so I am really happy to come back here this year. I will try to recover as much as I can from last week which was very tough for me. I still have a lot of emotions from Holland so I will try and rest, recover in time for my first match, start all over again and try and fight for another title.
In your ATP profile you said that hard-court was your favourite surface, but this year your best results have come on clay.
When they asked me I didn’t know, but I said hard-court, but it was not 100% my opinion. I have to say that I play good on all type of surfaces; I am really satisfied with my results especially on clay. In junior tournaments and now in the ATP and grand slam my best results are on the clay, so I have to say that is my favourite surface.
What improvements have you made to your game recently?
I was always an aggressive player and always wanted to have control over the match and this is one of my good points, this is what I like to do all the time.
I have improved my serve a lot; it is becoming a really big weapon which I like a lot as it is a big advantage in men’s tennis today.
Also, I have improved physically as well. I always had good baseline strokes which is improving with every match, every tournament.
The most important thing for me to improve is mentally. Mentally I have been a lot stronger this year, especially the last 4 or 5 months I had some great results, won some tough matches from two sets down, it is a big motivation for me. Now I am coming into the matches with a lot of self confidence, so in the next few years I have nothing to lose; I’m expecting more and more wins and a lot of success. But you know, I’m not putting any pressure on me, so I just have to stay calm.
What is your schedule for US Open series?
After Umag I will probably prepare for Toronto, Cincinnati and then the US Open. I won’t play anything before the US Open; just try to be 100% prepared.
I will be seeded which is really important for me, it means that I will not face a seeded player until at least the third round which is good. But in grand slams you cannot expect an easy draw as the best players in the world are there.
I think I have the qualities to play and win against the best players in the world. I am not anymore the talented player with potential, I am now the whole player, the made player which is the main thing that makes me happy.
Do you look forward to an opportunity to play for Great Britain one day?
Well, you never know. But I have to say that at this moment there is no serious talk about me coming to Britain; it is just a rumour and right now I don’t want to get into it deeply. I am playing for my country right now, I feel good making a great success right now; I’m at the top of my tennis. Right now we are in the middle of the season so I don’t feel comfortable to think about it too much. But you never know in tennis and in life, maybe it might happen one day but for now there is nothing there.
How do like to relax?
I like music and movies a lot, but I try to spend the time off I have with my family, with the girlfriend, or with some friends that I have. I like to surround myself with people because it is very important for me; I don’t like to be lonely, I always like to talk and share with somebody; it’s just the way I am.
My closest friends are Serbian guys from my country and Croatians like Mario Ancic and Ivan Ljubicic. But besides them I have a lot friends, I don’t have a problem with anybody. My girlfriend is not a tennis player. She is from Belgrade and is studying in Milano. It’s my private life so I don’t want to talk about it too much, but I am really happy for now.
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