06-23-2010, 10:20 PM
Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Love Carpet
Re: Novak News!!
Analysis: Djokovic needs to be more aggressive
A couple of years ago, there was a real feeling that Novak Djokovic was the man to beat but, since winning the Australian Open in 2008, times have changed dramatically as the hunter has now become the hunted, and there are signs that Djokovic is struggling to adapt accordingly.
In winning in Melbourne, Djokovic excelled in almost every department of the game: serving effectively, turning up the heat when returning and dominating whenever the opportunity arose from the back of the court.
But midway through the 2010 season, it's obvious that confidence is low and the problems he's experiencing on serve are having a detrimental effect on the rest of his game.
In his opening match here at The Championships against Olivier Rochus his unforced error count was astronomical, gifting the Belgian no less than 60 free points in total, including 12 double faults, and he realised afterwards that he had turned the match around just in the nick of time.
"Rochus is a very tricky player, especially on grass," explained the third seed. "He rarely gives you free points. You have to work for all the points. I dropped the level of my serve and I started to give him too many opportunities and he used them.
"The break helped me; I reset my game and as soon as I started to play more aggressively I was able to show my real game, especially in the fifth set."
If we take a closer look at a couple of key areas in that match and compare them with when he was playing his most successful tennis a couple of years ago it's obvious that he's not being quite as aggressive as he used to be.
In arguably the best performance of his career, when he defeated Roger Federer in the semi-finals of the Australian Open two years ago, his performance was outstanding.
He served incredibly well on that day; with 52% of his first serves proving unreturnable. Against Rochus it was a very different story, with just 28% of his serves failing to come back.
Now one of his major strengths has always been his return, especially when he's confident enough to step well inside the baseline and take the ball on.
And against Federer in Melbourne his intensions were obvious - every single second serve was taken inside the baseline on that day, and even 44% of Federer's first serves were fired back with interest from a similarly aggressive position.
On average, Djokovic made contact with the ball 1.3 meters inside the baseline when returning Federer's second serves, and he was 20 centimetres inside the court to return his first serves, which is outstanding and can only be the result of an extremely aggressive mindset.
This year at Wimbledon it's interesting to note that perhaps he doesn't seem to have the same mentality, or perhaps he's just not quite as confident, for when he played Rochus he stood on average just over half a metre behind the baseline to return his first serve, and then moved up the court and 58 centimetres inside the baseline when he got a look at a second.
And it's a similar story in terms of his groundstrokes; in his opening match this year he wasn't particularly aggressive and only managed to hit 31% of his groundstrokes inside the baseline, whereas in defeating Federer he took the ball a lot earlier whenever the chance arose - increasing that to a very impressive 54%, with his backhand in particular proving a useful weapon of mass destruction.
So perhaps to stand a chance of not only beating Taylor Dent but also of going deep into the second week Djokovic needs to to adopt a slightly more aggressive mindset for his game plan to prove more effective - just as he did so spectacularly at the Australian Open in 2008. Whether he can do so, given he seems extremely short of confidence, remains to be seen
06-25-2010, 05:13 PM
Join Date: Mar 2008
Re: Novak News!!
Friday, 25 June, 3rd Round vs. Montanes
Q. After a bit of a tricky start, you seemed to have found a real rhythm in the last two games. Has the confidence built up with momentum?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yes, it is. It's building up. I'm happy about that. It's important prior to the second week of the Grand Slam, which obviously gets more difficult. I'm gonna have, of course, a better‑ranked opponent, playing a winner of Monfils and Hewitt, which is going to be a very tough one.
So two days are going to help me to work on my game a little bit and get physically and mentally fit for the upcoming challenge.
Q. Can you talk a little bit about the relationship with your coach? You've been together for a few years. Don't want to compare it to a marriage, but how do you keep it fresh?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: That's not getting too personal (smiling).
Q. How do you work on things so the messages keep coming across?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I think every player has a different personality, character. And, of course, with it he has a different way of approach to the tennis and a person who wants to be next to him.
From my side, it's very important for me to have, of course, somebody who has a lot of experience in tennis, but in the other hand, somebody that I can talk to on and off the court that I can share my emotions and thoughts and everything.
He's been like my second father. So we kind of built up that relationship from the start. It's been great. You know, he's always going to be the part of my team hopefully as a coach always. You know, I'm just happy with the way things stand.
Q. What is your tip for the World Cup?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I'm not following it anymore. Serbia is out. I'm very frustrated now.
Q. Are you a sore loser?
(Oh, my.. :tape)
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: When my football team loses, yes, I'm a very bad loser. I had a sleepless night after we lost to Australia.
(Djokovic Looks To Avenge Football Loss Against Hewitt In Last 16
Q. Given that Australia beat Serbia, do you think you might try to get back at Lleyton?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: We joked around in the locker room. He said, What, we are not good enough for you guys now?
No, no, of course, I mean, they deserved to win because they were the ones who were attacking. I just don't understand why we were defending in the second half. (This sounds very familiar to me.
) But that's football, you know. We should have gotten the penalty in that last couple of minutes of the game. If we had the draw, we would go through.
But next time. Next time, I guess.
Q. Was it any consolation meeting the Queen?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, that's definitely a great experience, not just for me, for all the players who were there that day, all the people who had the honor and privilege to shake her hand and have a couple of words with her.
It's the experience that I'm going to remember for a lifetime.
Q. Can I ask you how you are assessing your serve at the moment?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Serve? I'm happy with the way my serve goes right now, comparing to the serve that I had in last couple of months that I struggled with. I know everything that has been going on. It's been more of the mental fight.
But it's going in the right direction. It's giving me now more confidence on my service games. I'm getting more free points. That's what matters.
Q. Your aces were quite high. I think your placement was very good. You seemed to have lost a bit of power. Would you accept that?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: As long as my placement is good, I don't argue about the power. It's important I think ‑‑ I think it's more important to have the good placement and, you know, lots of free points.
Q. One of the great things about our sport is that we basically have the three different surfaces. Could you take a moment and talk about which one you think demands the most of an athlete, how they compare?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, it's very hard to say. I think what makes tennis a very interesting sport is that we have this variety of the surfaces and we have different kinds of tournaments that, you know, provide you with some interesting tennis.
It's hard to say which one is most challenging, I guess. You know, every surface has its advantages and disadvantages. I think, in my opinion, for me the hard court is my surface, you know, my favorite surface, the surface where I did the biggest success. You know, I won the Grand Slam there.
Grass obviously requires a lot of attention to the serve and quick points, quick shots, shorter swing. Mentally it's very demanding, I guess.
And clay is the slowest one and requires a lot of physical strength, a lot of long rallies.
So I guess everybody has his preferences. I have played over the years well on all these kind of surfaces. It's good to be an all‑around player and have the success.
Q. Does any one of those particularly require the most from an athlete?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I cannot speak in general because, as I said, you know, everybody has preferences, everybody has different feel on every surface. So I can only speak in my name.
And I think, for me, the grass would be the most demanding.
Q. You're the greatest mind we have in our sport, the greatest comic. We're in the print media. Before you did your imitation of John Isner, what qualities would you think before you went into a monologue?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: You know, the interesting thing is we do a player's show in Monte‑Carlo every year. So Isner‑Mahut is definitely going to be there, is definitely going to take a very funny sketch for next year's show.
Q. Is it going to be Michael Jackson doing John Isner?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Actually, we were talking about getting that show into public more because if, of course, nobody minds, the players who are taking a part on that show, which I think is going to be very interesting for the people to see players in some other activities off the court. I have been doing it for last five years.
Let me tell you, I've been enjoying every single moment of it. I just like having fun.
The locker room sketches are always the one that is the funniest. It's where the players show their real characters, if you know what I mean.
Q. You mentioned, as a fan watching the Serbia game how frustrating it was, their loss. Do you think you're a frustrating player to watch on behalf of your fans?
(What a quality question this is!
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yeah, I do have lots of friends in the football team of Serbia. I know a lot of athletes around the world. I know how frustrating it is. It's easy for me to say on the TV, Hey, you run on this side, pass the ball and score. It's not the same on the pitch, you know. It's a lot of pressure involved, expectations.
Of course it's a team sport, so the one individual cannot carry all the team, same for my sport. From their point of view, I could have done some things better on the court. You know, they are cursing and throwing the remote controls when I play.
(I've never done that.
) It's all in best wishes toward your friend, of course. But it's not as easy as it seems on the TV.
Q. If for one day you could be a fan and watch yourself on TV, what kind of advice would you give to yourself?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I'm very self‑critical, so I don't think I would be very calm.
Q. You've been pretty outspoken about your work on the players council. Can you talk about if you feel satisfied with your term on the council and talk about the election.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Uhm, I was very happy that I kind of contributed on the changes there that are about to happen hopefully in the next couple years for us schedule‑wise and some other things.
And, yes, I've tried to take part in those discussions as much as I could. I was delighted that Federer and Nadal were there. That was the idea, you know, us three to get in and try to do something in a favor of the players. And I think we have done great work.
I'm not anymore in the council, but that doesn't mean that I'm not going to stop taking a part in those important issues. So gonna continue on.
06-28-2010, 07:45 PM
Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Love Carpet
Re: Novak News!!
N. Djokovic - 28 June 2010
Q. You appeared to be breezing your way through that. What happened in the third set?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I lost my focus little bit. I struggled with the stomach discomfort a little bit in that third set. And he got back into the match by breaking me 2‑All in the third set. Then it could have gone either way really. If I made that double break in the start of the fourth, maybe I would win easily that fourth set. But, you know, he came back.
That's why he's a big champion, because he never stops, you know, fighting. I didn't know what's gonna happen up to the last moment. I was fortunate enough to get that break at 4‑All and then held my serve quite well.
Q. You didn't look well throughout that third set. Would that be fair to say?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, yeah, you know, I wasn't moving well. I wasn't thinking about my game. I was thinking about some other issues. You know, he used the momentum.
But, you know, the positive thing is that I came back. I managed to get my things together and played well when I needed to.
Q. What was the shirt ripping about at the end?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Emotions (smiling).
Q. Could you tell us more about your stomach discomfort in the third set.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I mean, it's just it. You know, it's just the stomach discomfort. I didn't really get a lot of oxygen because I had that. You know, when you don't get a lot of oxygen, your muscles get a bit tired, and you get slower and slower.
I wasn't feeling really great at that third set. But then the doctor helped me out and everything was well in the fourth.
Q. Was it a muscle problem?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: No, it was just the stomach, yeah.
Q. Is it the heat, you think, that brought it on?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I don't know. Maybe. A lot of side factors, I guess. I just overcomed it and right now I feel good, so that's the important thing.
Q. Lleyton was asked, Could you tell there was anything wrong with him in that third set, and he said, I don't know, he's always got something. What's your reaction to that?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Everybody has an opinion. I don't know why the people think that I'm always having something, which is absolutely wrong because I haven't asked for medical or physio timeout for a long time.
I mean, any time I ask, you know, somebody has to say something. So I don't really care. You know, whatever.
Q. Could it have been something you'd eaten? Was it that sort of problem?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: It might be. Really, just want to forget about it now and move on.
Q. We don't know yet who your opponent will be. If it is Andy Roddick, what are your observations of the way he's been playing this tournament, and how would you describe your matchup with him?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: We had some tough and interesting matches throughout these two, three years. I mean, he's probably the biggest serve next to Karlovic and Isner on the tour. He holds the record of the fastest serve. It's his big, big weapon.
Of course, on the grass, if you serve well, you put a lot of pressure on your opponents. Throughout these five, six years, he has lots of success. Played an epic final last year.
He loves grass. He loves Wimbledon. He's definitely one of the players that is able to win the title, even this year if he goes through this match.
I guess the return would be, you know, one of the important elements in my game if I'm wanting to set the right tactics and eventually win.
Q. You obviously are very up on the history of the game. You've even done imitations of the great players in history. When you think about how the game has changed, even in the last 10 years, the demise of the serve‑and‑volley style, how much do you think the court speed and the weight of the balls has affected that?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: It did, definitely. You don't get to see a lot of serve‑and‑volley players these days. Most of the champions, Wimbledon champions, are baseline players.
Roger has some variety there. But then you have Nadal and Hewitt. These players are playing mostly from the baseline.
So the game has changed. It goes to my favor in a way because my game is based, as well, from the back.
But definitely, you know, it has evolved, you know, from last 10, 15 years. 15 years ago you could see Becker, Sampras, all these guys ruling the tennis world with serve and volley. But these days you have so many good returners. Sometimes it's really impossible to go serve and volley because you get a lot of balls back. Game is much faster.
Q. What is the connection between the pace of the courts and the weight of the balls to that phenomenon?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, it's difficult from my side to say and compare to the tennis that was 15 years ago because I'm really young and I haven't played. I haven't played Wimbledon for many years. I've played only five, six times.
From the first time I stepped on the Wimbledon grass, it is the fastest surface in the world in tennis. But from all the opinions and by watching as well on the TV, my opinion is that it got slower. It got much slower than, let's say, 15 years ago.
Q. You've lost to Andy the last three times you played him. Do you find him particularly mentally difficult to play?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yeah, he's very difficult to play against. As I said, if he serves well, he can beat anyone on any surface. It's a big weapon that he has, first and second serve. It gives him a lot of comfort. Then he can go for the shots on the return games.
As I said, it puts a lot of pressure on the opponent. So if I play him, I'll have to hold my serves and wait eventually for an opportunity.
Q. Back to the fourth set against Lleyton. When he leveled at 2‑All, were you thinking that you were in a bit of trouble there?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: As I said, you know, he's a big fighter. So I knew even when I was 2‑Love up, he's not gonna let it go. Just trying when I lost the break to get my thoughts together, hold my serve and get a chance, because I know I will get one. Eventually I got one at the most important moment, 4‑All. He double‑faulted it and then I held.
But I'm really happy with my performances so far in Wimbledon. I think I'm getting on the right way and playing the better game than I did in last couple months. Just hope to continue.
Q. How long did it take you to put the US Open incident with Roddick behind you mentally?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Oh, look, we went over it very fast. I mean, what happened happened. There's a lot of emotions involved. I just forget about it. Right now we're getting along just fine.
Q. What do you understand now more this year on the grass from last year or the last several months that's helped your game?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: The serve, definitely. I haven't been serving well in the last six, seven months. There's a lot of speculations why did I change my motion. I didn't want to change, but it just had ‑‑ I just got into that bad habit. Some side factors maybe influenced that a little bit: change of racquet, things like that. Once you get into the habit, it's really hard to get it out of your head.
So I've been working on it. And I think the serve is becoming better and better, which is very encouraging for my game. As soon as my serve goes well, I think I can really challenge anybody.
Q. Was one of the reasons why you changed the service motion was because your shoulder was hurting a bit and you were trying to relieve the pressure?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yes, yes. Well, it had started I think the end of last year. I was playing really well indoor season. Played so many matches, and got to the point of Masters Cup in London, or ATP Tour Finals, how they call it, where I really had a lack of energy and my shoulder was hurting. It was hard for me to get my shoulder up.
It got unfortunately into that bad habit. Then I tried to adjust with some things in the racquet. But it was wrong. It was all mental.
So it was a fight, a mental fight mostly. But I overcomed it right now. I know it will take a bit longer.
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