US Open 2014 – Novak Djokovic: “I'm feeling better and better as the days go by” - UBITENNIS
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US Open 2014 – Novak Djokovic: “I'm feeling better and better as the days go by”

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TENNIS US OPEN 2014 – 24th of August 2014. An interview with Novak Djokovic

Q. Can you talk about the depth in men’s tennis right now and how that may differ from, say, a year ago at the US Open?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Depth in terms of…

Q. More quality players, more players who are able to win major events?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yes. Well, I have been saying before that it’s positive to see that there is a new generation coming up of young players who are challenging and also winning against top players in the big events and who are contenders for big titles. Raonic and Dimitrov are on top of that list, and they have been playing some really good tennis. They played semifinals of Wimbledon. So I’m sure that people who care about the sport and follow this support love to see new faces. The dominance of the top four players has been in this sport for a long time already, you know, last decade or so, so we didn’t have many young players who were able to challenge for top spots and win Grand Slam titles. So this is something that is happening now, but it’s still a long way to the Grand Slam title, you know. It’s not something that, you know, can happen overnight. Of course it can. Nothing is impossible. But, you know, tennis has become more physical nowadays. It’s a very demanding sport. You need to be playing consistently well on a high level in order to break into the top 5.

Q. What is the mental approach to a first-round match against an opponent you have never played?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, get as much information as I can on his game. Obviously his strength and weaknesses in the game and tactically to be prepared before I come to the court. Obviously it’s never easy when you play against somebody you have never played against. He’s a young player from Argentina, and, sure playing on the center court for him is a great experience. He has nothing to lose. So my team is going to do scouting as much as possible and analyze his game and try to prepare myself.

Q. Your wife travels with you throughout the year. With a lot of the lower-ranked players who can’t afford to have family come with them, they are away from their kids, their partners, 25, 30 weeks out of the year. Have you ever felt what your life would be like on tour if you had to travel by yourself?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: That’s a good question. Well, that’s, you know, one of the issues we have in sport is that players who are ranked, you know, 67th and lower are not able to afford unfortunately their spouses traveling with them. It’s an effort, you know. It’s really expensive nowadays. The airline tickets, the accommodation and everything, the prices are just going up. You know, it’s not staying the same or not going down, you know. So of course that’s why, you know, players are trying to get prize money raised in the big events. You know, for the top players I think we understand the struggling of the lower players and we understand it’s not only about us, but it’s about these guys who are trying to make a living and trying to break through the top 50 where it gets a little bit easier. Obviously I have been there, but when I was much younger. I was not married when I was 50 or lower ranked, so I cannot imagine having that. But it is what it is, you know. Everybody has some difficulties in life. It’s our profession and it’s something that obviously is a big part of our lives, but it’s important to make the right balance. It’s family life, and love is more important than work, you know, in my eyes.

Q. Obviously you didn’t have the sort of leadup preparation to the US Open. Lost pretty early in Canada and Cincinnati. How has your prep been the last couple of weeks and how you are feeling now on court after those losses?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I’m feeling better and better as the days go by. It’s something that is encouraging me for this year’s US Open campaign. Obviously I want to peak with my form in the US Open. Yes, I wanted to do better in Canada and Cincinnati. Unfortunately I wasn’t even close to my best. But, you know, a lot of things happened in the last two months, and it was very emotional period. You know, I just felt a little bit flat on the court. I wasn’t managing to find that intensity and the perfect mindset. But, you know, it’s all normal. It’s something that I’m experiencing for the first time, right? So I’m trying to talk as much as I can to, of course, first of all my coach that has been through similar experiences in his life more than one time (smiling). So I’m trying to get as much information as I can, valuable advices that I can use in my case.

Q. Many of us in this room know what a momentous event of a first child can be. Do you think it will be as hard to focus on the tennis as ruthlessly as you normally would while you’re here?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, that’s a question I cannot give you answer to because I’m going to find out. I’m going to see how that feels. Obviously I talk with people who are around me who have children. As I said before, my coach and people who have been in similar situations like I am and how they dealt with that, how that has affected their careers, their mindset, their, you know, just overall life. I with no doubt have only positive and joyful feelings approaching fatherhood, and hopefully — it’s going to happen in less than two months. Then I’m going to enjoy it and try to take as much energy as I can, positive energy to, you know, after kind of transfer that to the tennis court. But without a doubt, life changes. You know, priorities change. My priorities, you know, my family, my wife, my future kid. You know, tennis is not definitely not No. 1 anymore.

Q. Rafael Nadal is not playing here this year. Do you ever reflect why he has to have so many injuries in his career? Quite a lot. Maybe because of his game style?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, probably. He has a very physical game. He slides a lot and spends a lot of energy on each shot. His joints, his body suffers a lot, and it’s not easy. He’s been playing this particular style of the game for over ten years on the highest level. He has won so many Grand Slams, so many tournaments. He has improved over the years on hard courts, and he has — you know, hard court probably for his body and his joints is his least-preferred surface. But, again, he has found a way always to come back. After he has been absent from the tournament for seven months he has had the best year of his year in 2013. So I expect no less, you know, when he comes back to the tour to see him strong, to see him motivated. He he’s a great competitor, a great fighter. As I said, I’m sure that if he had a small percentage of coming here and playing he would do that, because he just loves the game. I have a lot of respect for him. It’s probably because his game style is so physical that that’s why the body suffers a lot.

Q. You spoke a moment ago about Rafa’s physical style and his injuries. How would you describe Roger’s style and his durability by contrast?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I think it’s obvious that Roger has a different kind of movement and different kind of game from Rafa. Myself, as well. I would rate my game and my movement physicality closer to Rafa. I know we do a lot of slides and so forth, so it takes a lot of energy to do that. Where, you know, on the other hand you have Roger who sometimes plays so effortless and so smooth. But, again, that doesn’t mean that he’s not spending any energy. Of course it’s not easy, because the game has become more physical nowadays. Especially on the Grand Slams. It’s not only physical energy that is necessary to be on high level. It’s also emotional. It takes a lot of effort emotionally and physically to be on top of your skills and game to perform well.

Q. What do you make of his streak of appearing in majors, 15 years straight, 60 straight majors?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: What can I say? It’s an incredible achievement. Everything he does is remarkable. I have lots of respect for everything he does.

Q. Novak, over the last two months you have been saying it’s been emotionally draining. Does that affect your expectations at all going into this tournament? Are you still the favorite here?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: No, it doesn’t. I have high expectations for myself. I always have. Especially at this stage of my career where I feel like now is the time that I’m at my peak physical strength. I want to use this time of my career as much as I can to win as many matches as possible. Obviously I know I’m not the only one that has this kind of mindset, optimistic mindset. There are many players who are fighting for the same trophy. This is the last Grand Slam of the year, and this is where you want to play your best. This is where all the attention of the tennis and sports world come to. It’s going to be a long two weeks’ journey for all of us, but I was getting ready for it and looking forward to it.

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Wrist Injury Threatening To End Holger Rune’s Olympic Dream

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Holger Rune will have a second medical opinion on Monday before deciding if he is fit enough to play at the Olympic Games, according to his team. 

The Danish world No.17 recently retired from his quarter-final match at the Hamburg Open due to a knee injury. The hope at the time was that his withdrawal would be just a precautionary measure ahead of the Olympics. However, he is also dealing with a second issue that appears to be more serious.

According to TV 2 Sport, Rune has been struggling with a wrist issue and underwent a scan on Sunday which his mother Aneke says ‘doesn’t look promising.’ Aneke is also the manager of her son’s career. Rune’s Olympic dreams now rest on the outcome of a second medical expert that he will visit tomorrow who has a better understanding of the sport. 

“Unfortunately, it does not look promising after the first medical opinion after the review of the scan of the wrist,” Aneke Rune told TV 2 Sport.

“We are waiting for two tennis-specific doctors who will give a second opinion tomorrow (Monday). Tennis wrists look different from regular wrists, so we’ll hold out hope for one more day.” 

Rune is one of three Danish players entered into the Olympic tennis event along with Caroline Wozniacki and Clara Tauson. The country has only won one medal in tennis before which was at the 1912 Games when Sofie Castenschiold won silver in the women’s indoor singles event. 

So far this season, the 21-year-old has won 27 matches on the Tour but is yet to claim a title. He reached the final of the Brisbane International and then the semi-finals of three more events. In the Grand Slams, he made it to the fourth round of the French Open and Wimbledon. 

It is not known when a final decision regarding Rune’s participation in Paris will be made.

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Hubert Hurkacz Undergoes ‘Knee Procedure’ Ahead of Olympic Bid

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Poland’s top player on the ATP Tour is not giving up on his dream of winning a medal at the Olympic Games despite recently undergoing a medical procedure.

World No.7 Hubert Hurkacz suffered a knee injury during his second round clash at Wimbledon against France’s Arthur Fils. In the fourth set tiebreak of their clash, Hurkacz dived for a shot but landed badly on his knee and required on-court medical attention. He then played two more points before retiring from the match. 

In a social media post published on Wednesday, the  27-year-old confirmed he underwent a procedure on his knee earlier this week but didn’t provide any further details.  Although Hurkacz has stated his intention to play at the upcoming Olympic Games in Paris, where the tennis event will be held on the clay at Roland Garros. 

“I had a knee procedure this Monday, but I’m feeling better already and my team and are dedicating extensive time each day to the rehab process.” He wrote on Instagram. 

“It’s a dream for every athlete to represent their country at the Olympics, and I want to make sure I am fully fit and ready before making the final decision to step on court. The aim is not only to participate, but to win a medal for my country.”

So far this season Hurkacz has won 34 out of 48 matches played on the Tour. He won the Estoril Open in April and was runner-up to Jannik Sinner in Halle. 

The Olympic tennis event is scheduled to begin a week Saturday on July 27th. Poland is yet to win a medal in the event but expectations are high with women’s No.1 Iga Swiatek also taking part. 

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Motivation, Pressure And Expectations – Novak Djokovic Targets History At Wimbledon

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image via x.com/wimbledon

Novak Djokovic has broken numerous records throughout his career but he still feels the pressure of trying to make history in the sport. 

The world No.2 is through to his 10th Wimbledon final where he will play Carlos Alcaraz, who beat him at this stage of the tournament 12 months ago. There is plenty on the line for the Serbian who could equal Roger Federer’s record for most men’s titles won at SW19 and break the overall record for most major singles won in the sport if he triumphs over the Spaniard. Djokovic currently has 24 Grand Slam trophies to his name which is the same as Margaret Court, who won some of her titles before the Open Era started. 

“Obviously I’m aware that Roger [Federer] holds eight Wimbledons. I hold seven. History is on the line.” Djokovic said on Friday after beating Lorenzo Musetti.

“Also, the 25th potential Grand Slam. Of course, it serves as a great motivation, but at the same time it’s also a lot of pressure and expectations.”

Coming into Wimbledon, there had been doubts over Djokovic’s form after he underwent surgery to treat a knee injury he suffered at the French Open. However, he has defied the odds to reach the final. His run has also seen him beat Alexi Popyrin and Holger Rune before getting a walkover in the quarter-finals from Alex de Minaur, who sustained an injury during the tournament. Then on Friday, he overcame a spirited Musetti in three sets. 

Despite the challenge, Djokovic has insisted that his expectations to do well are always high no matter what the situation is. During what has been a roller-coaster first six months of the season, he is yet to win a title this year or beat a player currently ranked in the top 10. Although he will achieve both of these if her beats Alcaraz on Sunday. 

“Every time I step out on the court now, even though I’m 37 and competing with the 21-year-olds, I still expect myself to win most of the matches, and people expect me to win, whatever, 99% of the matches that I play.” He said.

“I always have to come out on the court and perform my best in order to still be at the level with Carlos [Alcaraz] or Jannik [Sinner] or Sascha [Zverev] or any of those guys, Daniil [Medvedev]. 

“This year hasn’t been that successful for me. It’s probably the weakest results the first six months I’ve had in many years. That’s okay. I had to adapt and accept that and really try to find also way out from the injury that I had and kind of regroup.”

Djokovic hopes that a Wimbledon win will help turn his season around like it has done in the past for him. 

“Wimbledon historically there’s been seasons where I wasn’t maybe playing at a desired level, but then I would win a Wimbledon title and then things would change.” He commented.

“For example, that was the case in 2018 when I had elbow surgery earlier in the year, dropped my rankings out of top 20, losing in fourth round of Australian Open, I think it was quarters of Roland-Garros, and just not playing the tennis that I want to play. Then I won Wimbledon and then won US Open and then later on became No.1 very soon.”

Meanwhile, 21-year-old Alcaraz is hoping to stop Djokovic in his tracks. Should he defend his title at Wimbledon, he would become the first player outside the Big Three to do so since Pete Sampras more than 20 years ago. He has won their only previous meeting on the grass but trails their head-to-head 3-2. 

“I’m sure he knows what he has to do to beat me,” said Alcaraz.

“But I’m ready to take that challenge and I’m ready to do it well.”

When the two players take to the court to play in the Wimbledon final, Djokovic will be 15 years and 348 days older than Alcaraz. Making it the largest age gap in a men’s Grand Slam final since the 1974 US Open. Whoever is victorious will receive £2,700,000 in prize money. 

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