Novak Djokovic: “I had a crisis end of the second, beginning of the third. Just felt very exhausted and I needed some time to regroup and recharge” - UBITENNIS
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Novak Djokovic: “I had a crisis end of the second, beginning of the third. Just felt very exhausted and I needed some time to regroup and recharge”

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TENNIS AUSTRALIAN OPEN – 1st of February 2015. N.Djokovic d. A.Murray 7-6, 6-7, 6-3, 6-0. An interview with Novak Djokovic

 

Novak Djokovic part 1: “I’m not going to talk bad things about him in the press or find any excuses or something like this”

Novak Djokovic part 2: “you go through some particular moments that you can call crises during matches like these. This is what I had in these 15, 20 minutes. After that I felt better”

Novak Djokovic part 3: “I think tonight I played better (than against Wawrinka)”

Q. Talk us through that third set. Struggling with injury, then you went on to win 12 of the last 13 games.

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yes. There were a lot of turning points in the match. As I think everybody predicted, it was going to be a big battle. Of course, Grand Slam finals for both of us, regardless of the record that I have here, and him playing also three times the final not winning a title, regardless of that, we both knew that, you know, we have equal chances to win it. Very similar match to the Australian Open final in 2013 when we played over two hours the first two sets. Tonight two and a half hours the first two sets. Very physical. Very exhausting. We both of course went through some tough moments physically. You could see that I had a crisis end of the second, beginning of the third. Just felt very exhausted and I needed some time to regroup and recharge and get back on track. That’s what I’ve done. I started hitting ball and trying to be a little bit more aggressive coming to the net, shortening the points. I got a very important break of serve at 2-Love for him in the third that got me back in the match mentally, as well. It was a cat-and-mouse fight. It always is. We always try to outplay the opponents with the groundstrokes, with the long rallies, a lot of variety in the games: spin, flat, slice, dropshots. I think both went out with the full repertoire of the shots we have. I hope everybody that watched it enjoyed the finals. From my side it was definitely very exhausting. Just glad that I believed it all the way through. Saved some breakpoints at 3-All in the third set and managed to make that break and win the third. After that I felt huge relief. I felt I could swing through the ball. I felt the momentum was on my side and I wanted to use that. At this level very few points can turn things around on the court as we could see tonight.

Q. Even if you know him since you are both 11 years old, he said he was distracted by you limping or having a problem to the hand or foot. Should it happen between two people who know each other so well?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yeah, I’m not going to talk bad things about him in the press or find any excuses or something like this. In the match like this a lot of emotions go through, a lot of tension. It’s not easy to keep the concentration 100% all the way through. There was this interruption with people coming into the court. It was a long delay. I was a set and a break up serving. I lost that serve. He started going through the ball more, being more aggressive, better player on the court. He was not the freshest player as well in the second and third set. But it’s normal to expect that after the amount and length of rallies that we had. It’s just all so physical.

Q. What does this fifth title here mean at this moment of your career?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I think it has deeper meaning, more intrinsic value now to my life because I’m a father and a husband. It’s the first Grand Slam title I won as a father and a husband. Just feel very, very proud of it.

Q. In what way?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: In a way that I’m a father and a husband (smiling). Well, you know, I try to stay on the right path and committed to this sport in every possible way that I have had in the last couple of years and try to use this prime time of my career really where I’m playing and feeling the best at 27. This is why I play the sport, you know, to win big titles and to put myself in a position to, you know, play also for the people around me. I know how much sacrifice they put in in my own career, and I try to thank them and not take anything for granted. As my life progresses, there are circumstances, situations, events that define these beautiful moments. Getting married and becoming a father in the last six months was definitely something that gave me a new energy, something that I never felt before. And right now everything has been going in such a positive direction in my life. I’m so grateful for that. So I try to live these moments with, you know, all my heart.

Q. How do you explain looking as if you’re almost out of it physically and mentally and then within two games managing to switch round to running. He thought you were cramping.

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: No, I wasn’t cramping. I didn’t call a timeout because I had no reason to call it. I was just weak. I went through the physical crisis in the matter of 20 minutes. And, honestly, didn’t feel that too many times in my career. But knowing in the back of my mind that it was a similar situation two years ago in Australian Open final, 2013, where two sets went over two hours, was a similar battle. Then I felt that I had some physical edge over him in that match. That was in back of my mind. That was something that kept me going. And obviously the importance of the moment, being in finals of Grand Slam. I didn’t want to give up. I try never to give up. Even though I went through this moment, I believed that I’m going to get that necessary strength. I’m going to have to earn it, and that’s what I did. I started hitting the ball more, covering the court better, shortening the points, and allowed myself to come back to the match.

Q. Early in the second set you fell over and seemed to have a few points where you were struggling with your ankle.

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: No, no, no, no. I wasn’t. Again, same reason that I mentioned before. You know, just the length of the rallies. That’s what has taken this physical toll on my body.

Q. Given the toll that you talk about and the willpower to overcome that, given all of that and that this eighth Grand Slam tonight is your biggest achievement? Would you say this is your greatest achievement on court?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I’ve had thankfully many great moments on the court in Grand Slams. I think every Grand Slam win is special in its own way. I can’t really compare. But this tournament by far has been my most successful tournament in my life, in my career. I enjoy playing here, enjoy coming back. Australia is a sports nation. They love the Australian Open. Another record-breaking year. The tournament sets up a standard for all the other tournaments and Grand Slams. It’s just such an enjoyable time to be out here. Andy was saying on the court, he listened to the comments of the other players and they all love this tournament. That’s one of the big reasons for this, is the facts that Craig Tiley and all the people from behind the stage, and sponsors of course, all the people who lead this tournament, are trying to improve facilities and accommodate players and make them feel good. Also going back to Australia as a sports nation, everywhere you go people are doing sport. They’re all fit. It’s kind of a very stimulative environment for sports. I love my time being here, and winning the eighth Grand Slam title and being mentioned in the elite group of legends in our sport is a huge privilege and honor. You know, I can’t say how proud I am. That’s going to serve definitely only as a great deal of inspiration for the rest of my career.

Q. You’ve won five now, which is a lot. Would you perhaps trade one, even two, for a win in Paris?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Ha! Don’t ask me this here, please (smiling). No, I strongly believe everything happens for a reason in life. I try not to waste my energy thinking, What if, what if, so forth. For a reason I’ve been playing so well here and winning five titles, and for a reason I haven’t won French Open yet. I’ll keep pushing and keep working and keep believing I can make it, at least once, until my career ends.

Q. When you lift the trophy, do you always think about the lady who has done so much for you, Jelena Gencic?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yes, of course. Of course. She’s not there only when I lift the trophy. She’s there very often in my mind. Next to my parents, my family, closest people in my life, she has done the most with them for my career, for my life in general. You know, this trophy, as much as it’s mine, it’s her’s.

Q. Do you think you’re paying a price physically for all the tennis you played the last couple years and the end of the season last year being pretty tough? And just to understand the situation, I saw you get drinks against Stan from the stands and also today in the match. Is that just electrolytes? What are you getting from your camp?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, the first question was about paying a price. You know, look, I’m not injured and I have no major concerns for my body, so I don’t think I’m paying the price for a lot of tennis. As a matter of fact, I think out of all the top players I’m playing the least tournaments. I can’t really use that as an excuse. Of course, I try to set up my own form for the biggest events because that’s where I want to shine. That’s where I want to perform my best. So in terms of scheduling, I try to pay a lot of attention on how I organize my scheduling in advance. I try to stick with it as much as I can. Obviously this year I’ll have Davis Cup. That’s an additional couple weeks. But the schedule is more or less the same. I actually feel physically very, very good. I don’t think that this 20, 30 minutes tonight can cause a major concern for me for the future. In contrary, I think that being able to bounce back from that period of 20 minutes and finish the match the way I finished it can only serve as an encouraging fact. And drinks, electrolytes, energy drinks, the stuff that every athlete drinks. I, of course, am very disciplined, very thorough with what I drink, with what I eat. I think when all the small details that you think are small, you pay attention to them, in the end it turns out to be very decisive, especially for these kind of matches. I believe the healthy lifestyle that I had in the last couple years for which I had to make a lot of sacrifice – trust me; even this nice champagne here – you know, a lot of sacrifice in terms of my free time, in terms of some delicious meals. But still I enjoy what I eat; I enjoy what I drink; I enjoy the life that I have. It’s my choice. So I can’t sit here and complain about my life where I’m actually saying it’s the best life I can have. As everybody else, I’m trying to be the best that I can be. That’s why I pay so much attention to it.

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Playing Clay Events After Wimbledon Was A Mistake, Says Diego Schwartzman

The former French Open semi-finalist is seeking to win his first title since March 2021 at the Tel Aviv Open this week.

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Diego Schwartzman (Roberto Dell'Olivo)

Diego Schwartzman will likely reevaluate his schedule for next year after admitting that part of his plans for this summer backfired. 

 

The world No.17 enters into the final quarter of the season with 31 wins against 22 losses on the Tour but is yet to win a title. Although he did reach back-to-back finals back in February in Argentina and Brazil. He has won two out of eight matches against top 10 opposition, defeating Stefanos Tsitsipas at the ATP Cup and Felix Auger-Aliassime in Barcelona. 

Reflecting on his performance, Schwartzman admits that his decision to return to European clay after playing at Wimbledon was a mistake. He lost his second match in Gstaad to Pablo Carreno Busta and then his first in Hamburg to Emil Ruusuvori. 

“It’s difficult to play at the same level every tournament, I’ve made a bad decision playing clay tournaments after Wimbledon, I didn’t have time to rest,” he said during his pre-tournament press conference at the Tel Aviv Open. “I paid the price and had some bad losses. But I started to feel much better in USA hard court season, lost to Stefanos Tsitsipas who reached the final in Cincinnati and to Frances Tiafoe at the US Open. Now I am feeling very good, I really love playing indoor tournaments.”

The 30-year-old has headed straight to Tel Aviv from the Laver Cup where Roger Federer played the last match of his career. Despite Schwartzman’s Team World winning the title for the first time, his only contribution to the tie saw him lose 6-1, 6-2, to Tsitsipas. 

Retirement was very much the topic of conversation during the Laver Cup with others such as Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic questioned by reporters about their plans in the sport. As for Schwartzman, he stayed coy about how much longer he would continue playing after saying in the past he might stop at the age of 33. 

“33 — is a good age to retire, isn’t it? South Americans are in different situations compared to European players. We travel too much, and sometimes we are not coming back home for 2-3 months, while Europeans can fly home every week. It’s tough,” he said. 
“As for Roger — he’s a special player, I think he is just the greatest in our sport.”

The Argentine is seeded third this week in Israel and will begin his campaign against Arthur Rinderknech who defeated qualifier Marius Copil in his opening match. 

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Laver Cup Daily Preview: Team Europe Goes for a Fifth Straight Laver Cup

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The lineup for Day 3 (twitter.com/lavercup)

Heading into Day 3, the 2022 Laver Cup is feeling extremely familiar.  Team Europe has an 8-4 advantage, and only needs two wins on Sunday to secure their fifth consecutive Laver Cup.  Team World needs to win three matches to pull off the upset and obtain their first. 

 

Sunday’s play gets underway in London at 12:00pm local time.  And each match on Sunday is worth three points.


Matteo Berrettini and Andy Murray (Team Europe) vs. Felix Auger-Aliassime and Jack Sock (Team World) – 12:00pm

Berrettini was victorious in both singles and doubles on Saturday, defeating Auger-Aliassime in singles, and teaming with Djokovic to overcome Sock and de Minaur in doubles.  So Matteo gained victories over both of his Sunday opponents on Saturday.  Murray lost to de Minaur in singles on Friday.  Andy and Jack are the most accomplished doubles players in this match, as Sock is pretty much Team World’s doubles specialist.  If he and Felix cannot pull of the victory on Sunday, it could be a pretty short day.


Novak Djokovic (Team Europe) vs. Felix Auger-Aliassime (Team World)

Like Berrettini, Djokovic won in singles and doubles on Saturday, comfortably dispatching of Tiafoe in singles.  While it was his first match in over two months, Novak showed no rust whatsoever.  Auger-Aliassime’s loss to Berrettini on Saturday will not help his confidence against the 21-time Major champion.

Novak and Felix have only played once before, and that occurred four months ago in Rome on clay.  It was a pretty tight affair, but Djokovic prevailed 7-5, 7-6(1).  And there’s not much evidence to support a different outcome on Sunday.  Novak is surely eager to re-assert his authority after missing so much of this season due to his vaccination status.


Stefanos Tsitsipas (Team Europe) vs. Frances Tiafoe (Team World) – If Necessary

Tsitsipas easily beat Diego Schwartzman on Friday, dropping just three games.  He is 3-2 against Tiafoe, and 3-1 on hard courts.  However, Frances claimed their most recent encounter, last fall in Vienna, which was also on an indoor hard court.


Casper Ruud (Team Europe) vs. Taylor Fritz (Team World) – If Necessary

Ruud defeated Sock on Friday, while Fritz defeated Norrie on Saturday.  If this match takes place, it will be their first career meeting.


The full Laver Cup schedule is here.

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Laver Cup Daily Preview: Novak Djokovic to Play Singles and Doubles on Saturday

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The lineup for Day 2 (twitter.com/lavercup)

In the wake of Roger Federer’s incredibly emotional retirement on Day 1, the focus of this event shifts to the rest of the competitors on Day 2.  And for the first time in the five-year history of the Laver Cup, Team World goes into Day 2 without a deficit.  With both Federer and Rafael Nadal replaced by alternates for Day 2 and Day 3, is this Team World’s opportunity to capture their first Laver Cup? 

 

Each day, this preview will look at all four scheduled matches, while taking an extended look at the most notable match of the day.  Saturday’s day session gets underway in London at 1:00pm local time, and the night session at 7:00pm.  And each match on Saturday is worth two points.


Matteo Berrettini (Team Europe) vs. Felix Auger-Aliassime (Team World) – 1:00pm

These two good friends have played four times, with Berrettini winning on three of those occasions.  Matteo’s wins came three years ago in the final of Stuttgart on grass, in the quarterfinals of last year’s Wimbledon, and a year ago in this event.  Auger-Aliassime’s only win occurred last summer in Cincinnati.  Matteo is coming off a quarterfinal run in New York, as well as three victories last week in Davis Cup.  Felix was upset in the second round of the US Open by Jack Draper, and went 2-1 in Davis Cup.


Cameron Norrie (Team Europe) vs. Taylor Fritz (Team World) – Second in the Day Session

Norrie was also an alternate in last year’s Laver Cup, but did not play.  Fritz was a part of Team World in 2019, when he went 1-1 in singles, defeating Dominic Thiem during Sunday’s play in a must-win match to keep his team alive.  Cam is now 45-22 on the year, while Fritz is 36-17.  Both men achieved their best-ever Major performances two months ago at Wimbledon.  They played each other just last week in Davis Cup, with Norrie prevailing after three tight sets.  Overall they have split 10 previous meetings.


Novak Djokovic (Team Europe) vs. Frances Tiafoe (Team World) – 7:00pm

Is Tiafoe ready to upset another member of “The Big Three” on Saturday?  He earned the biggest win of his career by taking out Rafael Nadal at the US Open, and defeated Nadal and Federer in doubles on Day 1 alongside Jack Sock.  Meanwhile, this will be the first match for Djokovic in over two months, since he won the Wimbledon final over Nick Kyrgios.  The unvaccinated Novak was unable to travel to North America for the hard court summer season.

Djokovic has only played seven tournaments this year, amassing a record of 23-5.  Tiafoe is 26-19, and is coming off his exciting semifinal run in New York.  Their only previous matchup was at the 2021 Australian Open, when Novak defeated Frances in four sets.  Frances is certainly the much more match-tough player on this day.  But despite his recent inactivity, Djokovic should still be considered the favorite.


Matteo Berrettini and Novak Djokovic (Team Europe) vs. Alex de Minaur and Jack Sock (Team World) – Second in the Night Session

Novak will have only a few minutes of rest ahead of this doubles match, so the length of his match with Tiafoe could impact the result here.  This will be Novak’s first time playing doubles since last year’s Davis Cup finals.  Berrettini played three doubles matches this past January at the ATP Cup, going 1-2.  De Minaur overcame Andy Murray in singles on Friday in what was a grueling contest, while Sock was defeated in singles and victorious in doubles.


The full Laver Cup schedule is here.

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