World number two Novak Djokovic sat down with the press this afternoon at the Sony Ericsson Open. Djokovic answered questions about soccer, Juan Martin Del Potro, and Andy Roddick. He also commented on his recent entry into the social media outlets of Twitter and Facebook. Here is his complete interview with the media.
Q. You’re awake. You must be really tired with all that’s been going on.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yes, well, it’s been exhausting couple of days, you know, from Indian Wells, traveling to Colombia, playing an exhibition match ‑‑ which, by the way, was amazing and great atmosphere and great reception we got there ‑‑ and then came back and we had, of course, the charity event, football match, and then the dinner that was going on. So it was a lot of obligations, but still, it was enjoyable, because it was all for the good cause; we had a lot of fun yesterday.
Q. How are you taking your first loss of the season against the Strikers?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yes, not great. (Laughter. We scored two goals. I mean, it’s good enough for the first time, you know. We were just discussing right now in the locker room how we need to work on our game. We are planning actually to play couple of more similar charity football games throughout, you know, the next six, seven, eight months. You know, I’m not gonna say still where and when, but we have something in our minds. Hopefully we can make that happen, because most of the players really, we love playing football, and you could see that. You know, you could see that they are enjoying playing that sport and of course being very competitive, even though it was first time that we managed to become a team. But we wanted to win badly. Yeah, but it was fun.
Q. Who’s the best player?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Ah, the best player? Baghdatis. Second best, Murray. They scored both one goal and they were good.
Q. Do you worry about injuries? I mean, soccer, even if you’re playing a charity event, you could still twist your ankle or something.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, you know, we didn’t think about that too much, to be honest, you know. (Smiling.) It was more of adrenaline rush that we had of just being there. To be honest, in the first place, everybody didn’t expect that event to be that successful. And it was incredible, you know. Big thanks to everybody who came there, and of course media and all the players, the Strikers and everybody. You know, it was a great cause obviously, and obviously and everybody felt the need to show their support. But on the other hand, it was ‑‑ you know, it was sport that we love to play, but we don’t have an opportunity to be able to play an official match with the referees. But it was great. You know, I don’t think they thought about injuries that much, but we had to sign the paper that they are not responsible for our injuries, like in States. It always works like that. (Laughter.)
Q. With everything that’s been going on, have you had a chance to reflect on what has just been an amazing start to the season?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Um, the best couple of months of my career, definitely. Um, playing really, really well on the court, feeling emotionally very stable, and I just have more self‑belief that I can play good tennis, you know, and that I can win against any player on the tour. It’s really important, you know. I always had, I think, that quality, but mentally I was having a lot of ups and downs, and I didn’t have enough confidence on the court when I played the big players in the big events. But now it’s different, you know. It took time. It took definitely time for me to come to this point where, you know, where I play, I think, the best tennis of my life. It took a lot of patience, a lot of hard work, but it all comes from that. It all comes from dedication.
Q. How did you address those mental up and downs? Was there one thing that made a difference?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: It’s very hard to make a difference between a private life and your professional life. There were some things that affected my game, you know, from private life. It was hard, for me, to kind of, you know, show my best on the court. You know, bottom line is this is mental game. Everybody’s physically fit, and, you know, everybody’s working really hard each day. But if you’re not stable emotionally, then you’re not able to perform your best on the court. Now things are coming together, so just happy for that.
Q. Can you tell me about all your experiences in Bogota?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I cannot tell you about all the experience, but I can tell you the experience that we had on the court. (Laughing.) It has been a fantastic trip for us. Even though it was very short, it was maybe one day, but we didn’t have much sleep, that’s for sure. You know, from Indian Wells we had a long travels, and we slept for a couple of hours only that day before the exhibition event. We had a lot of activities. We had a tennis clinic with sponsors, with kids, and we had a lot of media activities, as well. And then, you know, we went back to the stadium where we played the match. It was packed. I think it was 14,000 people. It was, for me, the best atmosphere in the exhibition match that I have experienced ever. I was not aware of the popularity of tennis in Colombia, to be honest. It was amazing. The president of the country came, and we really felt ‑‑ we really felt great.
Q. With all the matches you won now, is there a danger of becoming too confident?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I guess it’s never enough to have, you know ‑‑ more confidence you have, I guess, there is no limits in confidence, you know. It’s really important to be able to have a feeling that you can win against anybody in the court. I think the bottom line is that it’s all about confidence, and only couple of points basically decide the winner when you are playing against the top players, against Roger, Rafa, you know, Murray, all these guys. It’s very high level of tennis, and, you know, if you’re able to be calm in the certain moments, to be confident, to go for the shots, you know, then you will have a success. I guess in last two, three months, that’s the state of, you know ‑‑ that’s the feeling that I have right now, and it keeps on going well for me. But it’s only a start of the year. I want to move on. I’m using the experience that I had two years ago, three years ago when I won a Grand Slam, when I won Indian Wells, and then I lost here first round. I had a lot of opening‑round losses throughout the year, and I wasn’t managing to be consistent with the success. This time I will do differently.
Q. You recently joined the network of Twitter users.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Uh‑huh.
Q. What caused you to sign up? Was there a certain player that influenced you to get involved?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Actually, no. There was no player that influenced me, but it was a team of people around me, managers, you know, and the people who are familiar with the importance of the social networks. They explained to me why, you know, I should get involved and why I should communicate more with my fans via Facebook and Twitter. To be honest, I like it now, you know. It’s fun. (Smiling.) It’s quite convenient. It’s quite easy to tweet. You know, you write on your phone and you’re able to inform your followers, your fans, where you are and what you’re doing and updating with some pictures. Of course, it’s important, you know, because fans are the ones who are paying the ticket to come watch you, dedicating a lot of their time to you as their favorite player, and so you have to give them back in some ways. So far it’s going well.
Q. Tell us your experience about playing tennis on top of the plane. Did you have a stunt or did you do it all yourself?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, it came out ‑‑ yeah, I was really eager to hear the reactions of the people when the video came out. It was amazing. It’s an amazing video, really. It’s something that I’ve never done before. I think I will never do it again. (Laughter.) But it’s great. It’s something different and it’s totally crazy, but a great feeling. I think Head is very happy with the way things came out.
Q. Of course, if you continue to play like that, you will also have a shot at No. 1 pretty soon. Hypothetical question: If you could choose any location to become No. 1, would it be Belgrade?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Oh, that’s too early. Belgrade maybe 2012 or something. But, no, I don’t know.
To be honest, I am playing great and I’m feeling good on the court. The results are coming with the hard work that I’m putting in with my team, so my priority for the next period and the continuation of this season is to try to stay healthy and try to continue on playing this well. If I do that, then I will have a good chance to have a shot at the top spot. But still, as I was saying, it’s only the start of season, only first three months. You know, there is many, many, many players, not just me and Rafa and Roger. There are many players who are still in the, you know, contention of eventually getting that top spot. You know, it all comes down to Grand Slams and major events, because those tournaments are, you know, the most important ones, carry the most points. You know, you gotta perform well there, and we all know that Roger and Rafa are always at the late stages of Grand Slams. So if you want to keep up with them, you have to play at least semis or finals each Grand Slam.
Q. What do you think the level of Del Potro after his injury, and if you think that he will be soon in the top 5?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, even though he was out for what, nine, ten months? You know, we all know how good of a player he is. We all kind of expected him to come back in a great style, which he did. I think he’s been playing great in Indian Wells, and then he won Delray Beach. He’s coming back, you know. He always deserved to be a top 5 player with his game, but it takes time, obviously. And physically it’s gonna be probably more difficult for him to be able to play equally well week after week.
Q. Can you talk a little bit about Andy and where you see him…
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Andy?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Okay.
Q. And where you see him right now, you know, especially going into the majors, particularly Wimbledon?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Uh‑huh. Well, Andy’s always somewhere around there. You know, he’s been one of the most consistent tennis players in the last ten years. He’s been playing each year ‑ I think last nine, ten years ‑ Masters Cup, you know, in the last eight, last tournament of the year. He’s the best server that we have in the game. He’s been proving that year‑to‑year basis. You know, he’s always so dangerous to play against on any surface, particularly in Wimbledon and the fast surfaces or hard courts in United States where he feels best. You know, he’s a great competitor. You know, you can never sign him out, because even though he’s not feeling great, he’s not playing well, but he’s always there fighting ‑‑ and especially in front of his home crowd. You know, he has won the tournament here last year. He had a great run, so I’m sure he’s eager to defend his title.
Q. I was wondering how you put together the soccer team? How did you find the players? Did they just volunteer? Did you go around and find players that you knew were good? When you talked before about maybe putting together a team, do you think you guys might actually have, you know, 11 guys who you’re going to practice or anything?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, we came up with that idea last week in Indian Wells, and I have to thank and congratulate to the team of people that organized this event and the dinner last night. In such a short period of time, they managed to organize something that is world class, I think. You know, the football event was just fantastic. All the players who are there, you know, they told me that they felt great, that of course they felt big support and great, you know, great cause and big compassion to the charity and to what’s going on in Japan. Of course they all showed their great heart. And, as well, they enjoyed playing football. It all came spontaneously, to be honest. I’m in touch with most of the players, so I just asked them. I explained them the idea of…
Q. Did you have boots? Where did you get the boots from?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Some of us played with the normal football shoes, and the other ones played with normal tennis shoes. So it was different. But we got shirts there and things like that. We didn’t have any protection, so I was a bit scared, you know. I’m going to be responsible for their injuries or something.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: But we didn’t practice at all. Baghdatis took a pen and paper, and he says, Let’s organize. Let’s up put up a team and see who can be in what portion. We gathered around 10 or 15 players, and every single one of them wanted to be on attack. So that was a big issue before the match, how to put up a team of players who can play some defense, you know.
Q. Who was the goalie?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I said, I will be in the defense. I will be left defense. The goalie was the fitness coach, French fitness coach. He was okay, you know. He didn’t have any defense, so he got a lot of shots on the goal. Yeah, Murray and Baghdatis were in the attack, and they didn’t accept anything else except attack. So I said, Okay, you can go ahead. And they played well. Our mid‑field was terrible, I think. We need to work on that. And, yeah, we are talking. It’s interesting for us. You know, it’s something else. It’s a subject that kind of makes us happy to talk about and gives us ideas for upcoming, you know, couple of months to organize somewhere in Europe another game, maybe with some big team. But we’ll have to work, definitely. We’ll have to practice. We’ll have to see who is going to be defender. Otherwise I will be alone. (Laughter.)
Q. Did anybody turn you down? Did you ask anybody who said, No, can’t do it?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: There were a couple of players that couldn’t because of the matches they had, you know, things like that. And Roger, I asked Roger, as well. He wanted to come, but he couldn’t because of the obligations he had. But it was okay. You know, we still had a lot of great players. Now we will organize a bit more in advance so the players can be there, you know. Everybody loves playing soccer.
Q. Were there any Americans?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I asked Americans. (Laughter.) They’re like, Okay, we’re gonna come to support, things like… No, I told them. We should organize ‑‑ with Americans we should organize basketball. It’s better like that.