Under the Patronage of H.h. Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai

February 19- March 4, 2023
Dubai Duty Free tennis stadium
February 19- March 4, 2023
Dubai Duty Free tennis stadium
February 28, 2023

Novak Djojovic – Press Conference

2023 Men's Singles Main Draw Round 1: N. DJOKOVIC/T. Machac 6-3, 3-6, 7-6

Novak Djokovic

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. How did you feel out there on court? Did he take you by surprise at all? Talk about his level.

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I’m still finding my best level, I would say. I know that after an injury, it’s going to take a little bit of time and few matches for me to really find the groove, find the intensity on the court, find that movement, I guess timing. I made a lot of unforced errors tonight that got me into trouble.

Credit to him, he did surprise me. Never faced him. I did my analysis of his game and prepared myself well. Credit to him, he went for his shots, especially down the line backhand, serve and volley. He didn’t miss one volley. It was unbelievable. He played on such a high quality. He wasn’t missing at all.

I had to earn this victory. I played a pretty much perfect tiebreak, some great shots. I found another gear when it mattered.

I’m really pleased to get a win like this one after almost more than four weeks of not playing any competition.

Q. Since the beginning you wanted to be No. 1. Did you then think your target was going to be Federer’s number? After you broke it, was then your target Steffi Graf’s number? After that, is it in your mind 500 plus weeks?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: It’s true that once you achieve, at least in my case when I achieved the world No. 1 for the first time, 2011, I had to set up new goals, new dreams. Being No. 1 was always the ultimate goal. That is the ultimate achievement in tennis, without a doubt.

I tried always to stay as long as I possibly can on that spot. I think the consistency of playing well, staying relatively healthy throughout my career, not facing too many big injuries, allowed me to have the consistency, to I guess accumulate a lot of points.

I’m very obviously proud of this achievement. I’m 36 this year, so I just don’t think at the moment this is highest priority. I would like to stay healthy and prolong my career as much as I can to play on this highest level. That’s the one priority.

The other priority is playing the best tennis in Grand Slams, trying to win more Grand Slams. Then if No. 1 ranking in the world comes as a consequence of good results, I’ll be very happy.

But things change a little bit. Of course, I wanted to break Roger’s record, I wanted to break Steffi’s record when I was so close. Why not? So I’m here. Right now I just focus on some other goals.

Q. You are always very humble talking about the No. 1 ranking, Steffi Graf. It’s truly unbelievable, you achieve it with zero ranking points from Wimbledon and missing few big tournaments in U.S. Would you talk about how challenging it is with limited tournaments.

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, it is. I think this is the least points I’ve had as No. 1. It happens. It’s not only due to my circumstances of not playing couple of Grand Slams and everything that happened last year, but also other players, some players missing some slams for injuries, some players not having the biggest of consistency, so to say.

Again, I guess that makes the achievement even bigger, at least in my team’s and my eyes. Of course, I’m overwhelmed with pride. That’s all I can say.

I work as hard as anybody else. I’m really, really committed to the sport. And I try. There’s a lot of challengers that are coming up in the new generations. Alcaraz being there, probably one of the leaders of the next generation. Rune. Then you have Tsitsipas. These guys are just playing on a high level constantly. They’re playing a lot of tournaments, a lot of weeks. I’m not playing as much, and I don’t plan to play as many weeks as they do.

Yeah, I mean, I guess eventually they’ll take the No. 1, then I’ll bring it back again, then they’ll take it again, then we go in circles.

Q. Were you happy with the way you were moving on the court? Can you say a percentage of where your quickness is?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Movement-wise, I think it was okay. Fitness-wise, not the best that I normally would feel. I think also I guess execution of the shots could have been better. I had some I guess bigger drops than I would normally have in terms of shot-making, some uncharacteristic errors happening from both ends. I guess that’s part of the process of finding the timing, finding the tempo, finding the balance on the court.

I wasn’t thinking about my leg today, which is great. It was not bothering me at all. That’s great news. But injury is an injury. There’s a muscle memory and it plays with your mind a little bit, it plays with your biomechanics, with your preparation for the shot, execution for the shot. I do feel a difference definitely comparing to the level that I had and the kind of execution I had in Australia.

But it’s not that negative. Of course, there’s a lot to be happy about tonight. I think the fighting spirit was there. Tiebreak was as good as it can be.

Take it day by day and see where it can go.

Q. Daniil Medvedev was talking about the balls.

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Tennis balls, right (smiling)? Sorry, a little joke. Almost midnight joke.

Q. He was saying when it’s two games before you change the balls, they are like apples.

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Small apples as well. Maybe melons. Curious what he meant.

Q. With the conditions here, do you find these balls better than in the past or do you see what Daniil is saying?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yeah, there is a difference, for sure, in terms of the balls that we used in Australia, we are using them here as well. In Australia also they were a bit slower than they were in previous years, as I can recall. Same effect this year.

It’s probably because of those balls that the play is different in terms of the speed. The surface, I don’t think there’s any change with the speed of the surface. I might be wrong. I don’t know.

I think the balls, because they get bigger and slower, it’s not as easy to make kind of a 1-2 play, quick points, winners. You got to earn the points. You got to run more. You got to work more.

I don’t mind it, to be honest. I like the balls and I like the conditions in Australia. I like them here. There’s no complaining from my side.


FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports
129359-1-1004 2023-02-28 18:40:00 GMT

Our Partners