There is an interview with Novak in the newest edition of the German tennismagazine. I translated it:
ĄMy ease is backď
In an interview with tennis magazin the #4 ranked player in the world talks about his relationship to Roger Federer, the tennisboom in Serbia and his image as ďDjokerĒ.
Mr. Djokovic, did you watched the final of Paris?
A watched a few games on tv. I knew that Roger would win. He has so many variations in his game, short balls, slice. SŲderling doesnít feel comfortable with this. He likes it to stand far behind the baseline. Roger took him out of his comfort zone.
Everyone raves of Federer. Is the fact that he has now won all 4 Grand Slam tournaments something special for you as one of his rivals?
To be honest: I didnít had any emotions. After all it was him who won and not me (grins). I can only say: Well done. It as a great success for him. He has deserved it and has shown that he is one of the best in the history of tennis.
One of the best or the best?
One of the best. You canít compare tennis from 50 years ago with the game from today. Laver, McEnroe, Connors, Lendl. They played with wooden rackets and it was a different tennis: rhythm, speed, the whole circuit. Who knows how good these players would be today.
A lot of people had already written off Federer.
I didnít, even when he didnít played for a while on the highest level. Rafael Nadal has become more completed and started to play incredible tennis. Then there have been a few other players like me and Andy Murray who managed it to beat Federer. After 5 years of dominance it was normal that his performances would drop a bit. But he has always been the #2 in the world and not the #10.
They say your relationship to Federer isnít the best.
Thatís wrong. The media is exaggerating. We have a very fair relationship. We respect each other. Ok, we arenít friends and donít get out to eat dinner. We are colleagues, rivals. Itís difficult to be friends when you compete against each other on the court.
You have been one of the favourites in Paris, but lost early. When are you going to win your 2nd Grand Slam tournament?
Paris has been a huge disappointment for me. The clay court season has been really good for me and I had the feeling I could win the tournament. The loss against Philipp Kohlschreiber has been a lesson for me and Iím going to learn from it. Maybe I get a chance in Wimbledon. I have worked on my volleys and play more aggressive. I have always dreamed of a victory there. It is the most precious title, even though I prefer to play on hardcourt and clay. But grass is an interesting surface. Everything happens so quick. You have to be physically and mentally absolutely fit.
You are always mentioning your aim in life, the #1. How far away are you from it?
Three ranks (laughs). On a serious not: It is still my aim. It depends on a lot of things, mainly from myself. I know that my quality is good enough. I play on the highest level for two, three years, have won a Grand Slam tournament and the Masters Cup. Iím ready. It is a question of consistency, self confidence, devotion and professionalism. My bad luck is that Iím playing in the same era as Federer and Nadal, two of the best players of all time.
Would your career been unfulfilled when you wouldnít become #1?
No. You have to have aims for everything you do. I have a fire for this sport. Iím playing tennis my whole life. I donít know what will be in 5 or 10 years. When I stay healthy and still have the passion I will be around then to play. But I donít want to put to much pressure on myself. When it doesnít work with the #1 that it isnít meant to be.
What is important in your life?
To have inner peace, loval and honest people around me. For me the meaning of life is to have a family, to be happy, contented and healthy. When Iím the #1 in the world, have 20 Grand Slam titles, that is fantastic, but thatís not the only one in life. Usually a career is over when you are 30 years old. What then?
Do you reveal it to us.
You need to have alternatives, try to find out what you really want to do.
John McEnroe says that you could have a career on a stage.
Could be. I already sang when I was 4 years old, danced, entertained people. I love to do this. I always had this extra energy. I donít know what will come later on in life. I have many interests. Iím a very emotional person. Sometimes the media is killing me for this.
Like last year at the US Open, when you criticized the American darling Andy Roddick in the stadion. Was that clever?
Maybe not. But Iím saying what Iím thinking, I donít hide. When I look into the mirror in the evening Iím at peace with myself.
It seems as the showman Djokovic, who parodied his fellow players, has become a bit more quiet. Is this impression correct?
I agree with you to a certain point. I still try to entertain the people. But lately I felt a lot of pressure: from my country, from tennisfans, from the media. I felt mentally exhausted. I have a kind of bad reputation which I donít understand. They say I have quitted matches purposely.That hurted me because it isnít true.
You lost the ease?
Yes, but itís coming back now. Everyone has to go through crises in life. Thatís normal. Especially after I had my breakthrough I struggled to keep my level of play. With the Grand Slam title in Australia in 2008 my life has changed. It wasnít always easy to adjust to this. Now I have learned to just take the positive things from the past with me.
How important is entertainment in tennis?
Extremely important. Our problem is that we have too little characters. We have a few new faces: Tsonga, Murray. That is good. But the probably biggest rivalry in sports between Federer and Nadal isnít good for tennis. Itís important to have more selection, also for the fans, to have more candidates who can win the Grand Slam tournaments, to have more enthusiasm. I donít say that everyone should be like me. But tennis could get market a lot better.
Do you have a spontaneous idea?
Yes, but I donít want to talk about it premature. Iím a top 5 player for 2 years now and ready to take over more responsibility. The fans like my performances off the court. Itís important to do something. I donít like players who complain on the meetings that not enough is done, but when it comes to write autographs for kids for 5 minutes they donít want to do it.
You and your family hosted a tournament in Belgrad this year. How did the premiere went?
It was fantastic. I think we did a very good job. It is important to have a player in the organisation. I know what the players want: much space in the players lounge, good locker-rooms. When you can offer this they are coming back. We only had a 6 months preparation, but everyone was delighted. Fortunately I was also able to win my own tournament.
You have triggered off a tennisboom in Serbia like Boris Becker in Germany. How are you dealing with this?
You are carrying a lot of weight on your shoulders when the whole country is reliant on you in sports. But I like it. My fans in the whole world support me. They like what I do. This appreciation boosts me.
Becker sometimes wore a wig, in order not to get recognised on the streets. Do you also wear one?
No. I donít hide. I donít like this, even though it would sometimes be necessary.
How political are you?
Last year you commented on the politics of Kosovo.
And I got bashed for this. Maybe the press couldnít accept that someone from a small country can be that successful. There comes a guy like me who is open, energetic and honest, who says what he thinks. Suddenly everyone was against me. I made a statement 1 Ĺ years ago concerning the independence of Kosovo. It is difficult to understand this when you donít come from that region. I can explain a lot, but someone who has never been there wonít understand it. Everyone is allowed to write what he thinks is right. I just felt that the western media were too much against Serbia. I have accepted this and given up to talk about the Kosovo. Itís not a good topic for an athlete. My priority is tennis. That should stay this way Ė for now.
Would you describe yourself as a patriot?
Yes. One should be proud of where you are coming from.
Mr. Djokovic, one last question. Do you play this year at the tournament in Hamburg?
Your picture is on all posters.
That surprises me, because I wonít play there. I donít understand why they promote with a player who wonít be there.
(source: German tennis magazin, edition July 2009)