Under the Patronage of H.h. Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. Some believe the game of tennis has become physically intensive. What is the reason for it? If it has, is it good or bad for the sport or the players in general?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I think it is the case with all the sports. It’s kind of a logical, I would say, fact about life. Everything is evolving, everything is improving. It should be that way.
You have the technology that is really different. Tennis not so many years ago was played with a wooden racquet. You’ve had an introduction of so many incredibly enduring but yet very light materials that allow you to swing quicker, to have more control. That’s technology.
Of course, then the know-how of physical preparation, of recovery, of training, training regimens. Database has grown a lot. I guess more time passes, the more technology is advanced and we are able to get more insights to our tennis and what we can do with our strokes and with our shots. It’s really a little bit of everything.
I do agree it has become more physical in terms of running, sliding. You have to be very athletic. You have to be an all-around, all-surface player in order to be No. 1 in the world.
Nowadays everyone is playing pretty much every big tournament, so the competition is very, very high. Season is long. For me it’s too long, in my opinion. I have been saying that quite some time – these days when I’m a bit older than I was 10 years ago.
I just feel like we can reorganize our season in a better way. It’s a little bit complicated. It’s another subject. There’s too many interests, governing bodies in tennis that decide on the calendar.
Overall I think tennis is in a good place, but we must use the potential and the global reach that we have. We are not using that potential to its maximum at all. We are one of the most global sports watched around the world, over a billion people watching. I feel like we collectively have to do a better job in promoting the tennis. It’s a very popular, historic sport. Marketing-wise and using, so to say, potential commercially is not as close to all the other global sports.
Q. PTPA, what is on the immediate agenda for you guys at the moment? The next three months, what’s the top priority?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Look, we have a CEO. We have a full team now. We have a structure in place with marketing, PR, strategy, analytics. We have really people that cover every necessary aspect of one solid organization.
I guess the CEO will elaborate more on the strategic points and direction and priorities. But for me, the PTPA’s existence, most important purpose, is to serve players across the board.
We struggled, unfortunately, last few decades with the division between ITF, ATP. So ATP only has a reach as much, then after that is ITF.
We have thousands, tens of thousands of players that are competing around the world. Unfortunately only 400 to 500, both men and women, singles, doubles, mixed, live from this sport. That’s something that I feel like not many people want to talk about, but I feel like it’s super important to always remind ourselves that we are, by some statistics, third or fourth most globally watched sports. 1.3 billion people watch it, yet we can’t have more than 400 people living from this sport, both men and women. I think we have to put that in our mind and really think about whether this sport is doing great or not.
The top of the game is doing well, of course. Can’t complain for myself. But I’m speaking I feel like on behalf of all the lower-ranked players that struggle to make a living. I think this is the main goal.
PTPA of course is a player-only organization, but I think it should be a global of everyone. I’ve been trying to call on all the governing bodies and organizations in our sport to get together and collectively figure this out. Unfortunately that hasn’t happened yet.
Hopefully it will because divisions are definitely not something that PTPA stands for. We actually want to unite, we want to represent more the voices of the players that are normally not heard, that you normally don’t get a chance to speak to them or see them.
Those are the majority. We are the minority. We are whatever, 100, 150 players in the world, men’s side, women’s side, all in all. You have tens of thousands of other players, Hear us out.
We have to do a better job, we have to create a better system for them to make a living, at least break even. I think if you’re 200 in the world, you can’t travel with a coach. You have to travel by yourself. 200, 250 max. This is not good enough.
Q. Has the desire to win now increased when you look at Olympic medals, breaking Grand Slam records, or is there a level of satisfaction now?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, desire has been always there. I mean, without desire, I feel like there’s no motion in any sense of that word. So I always try to be very clear with myself what the goals are, what I want from tennis, competitive tennis. This is the way I’ve been brought up and been taught by some of the key people in my life, of course including my parents and some of the coaches I had early on.
This kind of mentality really helped me to always be so devoted to the game. I always remind myself that it’s the willpower, the desire to succeed that’s essential ingredient in the whole formula.
Of course, a lot of things have to come together. You have to work, have a good team of people around you. You have to have luck as well, which I did in life.
I still have lots of desire to break records, to play. Every match is different, but that’s the beauty of competitive tennis, is that you never know what the next day brings. So you have to figure always out the way by yourself on the court.
It’s kind of a little bit symbolic to life, as well. Of course, there’s a team of people around you, but then you have to take responsibility for your actions.
I look forward to Olympics. You mentioned Olympics. I hope that I’ll be able to play healthy for next year in Paris Olympic Games. It’s going to be played on clay in Roland Garros, so I’m familiar with those grounds.
I hope, yeah, best Olympic result for me will come there.
Q. I want to ask you what I asked you pre-tournament about your diet, if there’s been a change.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, there’s always something, you know? I always try to discover more of things that would help me feel better, feel stronger, recover more. Everything is constantly, I guess, evolving also in that field of life.
I’m passionate about nutrition in general, and health and wellness, well-being. So I follow that field quite thoroughly. I try to learn from that experience. I am not an expert, far from that. I know that.
I always try on myself whatever it is that I feel that could add that extra nuance, little percent of something that could maybe help me not only as a tennis player but as a human being.
Q. I noticed the ’80s generation are so great even in other sports. The amazing thing is that they are still dominating at latter stages of their career. Messi, Cristiano, LeBron. What is so special? What is the secret? Maybe next generation, is there some chasm or a difference in talent or in experience?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I don’t believe in coincidences in life. Everything happens for a reason. It’s great that the big names that you mentioned were all born in the same decade.
I’m sure that things that we talk about today, we feel some of the achievements are just not reachable maybe in 10 years’ time or whatever, that we’ll be seeing someone surpassing basketball’s biggest records, or tennis. I would be surprised if that didn’t happen, to be honest, because everything is improving so much.
One is getting to learn from people that came and have done some great things before them. I’m sure that the young players in tennis are studying Federer, Nadal, my career, how we go about things on and off the court, what made us successful. That’s what I was doing. I mean, if you really want to be No. 1 in the world, best in your craft, so to say, you need to learn from the people that have been in those shoes.
Yeah, let’s see. Now some achievements look far from reachable, but maybe that was the case also 10 years ago or something for some of the achievements in tennis.
But everything is possible.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports