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.
‘I Know How To Get There’ – Karen Khachanov Targets Return To Top 10
The world No.31 has showed signs of his talent this season with a run to the Olympic final but a lack of consistency and changes to the ATP ranking system has hindered him too.
It wasn’t that long ago when Karen Khachanov was the highest-ranked Russian man on the ATP Tour and billed as the next big thing from his country.
A breakout 2018 season saw Khachanov claim three Tour titles with the biggest of those being at the Paris Masters which remains his most prestigious trophy to date. He also reached his first major quarter-final at the French Open during the same season and scored five wins over top 10 players. Those triumphs helped elevate him in the ranking to a high of eight.
However, since that breakthrough Khachanov has found himself on a a rollercoaster journey. He is yet to win another title since Paris but came agonisingly close at the Tokyo Olympic Games where he finished runner-up to Alexander Zverev. In his nine previous Grand Slam tournaments his best run was at Wimbledon this season where he reached the last eight before losing to Denis Shapovalov.
Now ranked 31st in the world, the 25-year-old is aiming to claim back up the ladder after the ATP changed their ranking logic to the method used prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The rankings turned out to be a big pun, it was frozen for a year and a half, only now normal counting has begun. I am not fixated on this,” Khachanov told reporters in Moscow on Wednesday. “My main goal is to get back to the Top10. I know how to get there. And the intermediate goals are to be healthy and motivated.”
Khachanov has been ranked outside the world’s top 20 since February and hasn’t been in the top 10 since October 2019. He is currently coached on the Tour by Jose Clavet who has previously worked with a series of top Spanish players such as Feliciano Lopez, Alex Corretja, Tommy Robredo and Carlos Moya.
“He travels with me everywhere, for which I am grateful to him. I trust him as a specialist, as a coach and as a friend,” Khachanov said of Clavet.
Khachanov has returned to his home country this week where he is playing in Moscow at the Kremlin Cup. A tournament he won three years ago by defeating Adrian Mannarino in the final. Seeded third in the draw this time round, he began his campaign on Wednesday with a 3-6, 6-3, 6-1, win over James Duckworth. In the next round, he faces another Australian in the shape of John Millman which he believes will be a far from easy task.
“He is a fighter, a complete player, he does everything well, forehand and backhand with good intensity. He does everything at a good level, but the main quality is that he fights till the end, so it will be hard for me,” he said of his next opponent.
Moscow is the seventh tournament this year where Khachanov has reached the quarter-final stage.
Filip Krajinovic To Skip Australian Open If Required To Quarantine For More Than Five Days
The world No.34 says he ‘sees no reason’ why vaccinated players should have to go through a long quarentine in Australia.
The second highest-ranked Serbian player in men’s tennis says it would be ‘unacceptable’ for organisers of the Australian Open to require players to quarantine for more than a week if they have been fully vaccinated.
Filip Krajinovic has become the first player to publicly state that they will not be prepared to travel to Melbourne at the end of this season if they have to go through strict quarantine measures once again. All the players who participated in this year’s Australian Open were required to be quarantined in a designated hotel for 14 days upon arrival in the country. During their stay they were allowed to use training facilities but that was the only time they could leave the premises unless there was an emergency.
There is no final decision regarding the travel requirements for the 2022 tournament but there are concerns that unvaccinated players may not be allowed to enter the country. The Victorian government recently issued a mandate ordering all essential workers to be vaccinated, including athletes. However, the regional government will not have the final say concerning tennis players arriving in the country with the national government being the ones in charge of that decision.
“They are very rigorous there and honestly, if I have to be in quarantine for 14 days after arriving in Melbourne, I will not go to Australia,” Krajinovic told Serbian newspaper Blic.
“I was vaccinated, I did everything in my power to protect myself and the people around me, so I really see no reason to sit there for 14 days in a room.’
“If they (the organisers) say that after arrival I need, say, five days to be in isolation, that’s OK for me, but anything beyond that is unacceptable to me. With the season ending late, I will have 20 days to get ready and go. Charter flights will be organized again and the last one is planned for December 28 for the players and that is the final date when I can go to Australia. I will see what the final decision from Melbourne will be, so I will cut what is the best thing to do.”
Earlier this week Victoria’s Sports minister Martin Pakula urged players to be vaccinated because it give them ‘the best opportunity to play in the Australian Open.’ It is expected that if unvaccinated players are allowed to attend, they will be subjected to stricter restrictions. This might include a longer quarantine period upon arrival and limitations of where they can go during their stay.
“Last year, all of those players had to do their 14 days of quarantine. Right now there looks like there will be different rules for people who enter this country who are vaccinated as against unvaccinated and I don’t think the tennis will be any exception to that.” Pakula told the Sports Entertainment Network (SEN).
“In terms of what rules apply for people to enter Australia, whether unvaccinated people are allowed in at all, I don’t the answer to that yet. That’s going to be the subject of discussion at national cabinet and among the federal cabinet … those rules are not set by state governments.” He added.
Krajinovic is currently ranked 34th in the world and has a win-loss record this season of 18-18. At the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells he reached the second round before falling in straight sets to Daniil Medvedev. His best run so far this year was at the Hamburg Open where he reached the final.
“When we look at the whole of 2021, I played one final, one semifinal, there were good victories, but also worse results,” the 29-year-old commented.
Krajinovic is currently without a coach but is currently in ‘negotiations’ with somebody without elaborating further about who that person is.
Alexander Zverev Secures Place In ATP Finals With Indian Wells Win
Zverev will be seeking to win the season-ending extravaganza for the second time in his career.
Germany’s Alexander Zverev has become the fourth player to officially qualify for the ATP Finals after reaching the third round of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells.
The world No.4 defeated America’s Jenson Brooksby 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, in his second round match on Sunday which pushed him over the points threshold to secure his spot in the end-of-season event. It is the fifth year in a row he has qualified for the ATP Finals which he won back in 2018. He is one of only three German players to ever win the title after Boris Becker and Michael Stich.
This year’s tournament will take place in Turin, Italy for the first time in history after being held at The O2 Arena in London for more than a decade. Only the eight highest ranked players are eligible to play in the round-robin tournament which has on offer up to 1500 rankings points for an undefeated champion.
“My first time in Turin. I’ve been to London four times before. London is obviously very special to me because I won there, as well. I think the stadium is incredible, one of the most special events that we had,” Zverev told reporters on Sunday.
“But I also love playing in Italy. I had great success in Italy. I won my first Masters in Rome. I’m looking forward to being there. I’m looking forward to playing in front of the Italian fans. It’s going to be a great week.”
The 24-year-old approaches the final quarter of this season with four titles already won this year. He has won two Masters 1000 trophies, an ATP 500 event in Mexico and a gold medal in singles at the Tokyo Olympic Games. Zverev, who has recorded seven wins over top 10 players, also reached the semi-finals at both the French Open and US Open.
Zverev joins Novak Djokovic, Daniil Medvedev and Stefanos Tsitsipas as the players who have qualified for the ATP Finals so far. It is the third straight season the quartet has qualified for the event.
This year’s ATP Finals will get underway on November 14th. Medvedev is the defending champion.
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