Once again we tip our hat to FreedomTennis.
Today started a little iffy but then it was a solid match from Novak. This year Pierre is here so Novak will be a happy chappie with his doggie.
Q. One of the websites was saying you took a golf club out on court. Can you clear that up?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: It was a little joke we wanted to do with my sponsor, Head. They provided me with a junior golf club. They have, I don’t know if you noticed, but all the Head players, they have the bags which look like golf bags because you can place them the way the golf bag is standing, you know.
So it was a little funny thing. Being creative, that’s all. But fans corrected me right away. They said, This is not a golf course. I said, Okay.
Q. Could you hear them?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I was talking to them, yes. Just a couple of people. It was really nice.
Q. Were you tempted to go out in the warmup and see how you got on?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: It’s too short for me. We do play golf. There are a lot of golf courses here. Royal Wimbledon Golf Course is really nice. We do get to play on off days. Not really good at it, but enjoying the walk in the park.
Q. Was it your idea?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: It was kind of mutual. Obviously they came up with the design of the bag. So if I remember, I proposed to have a golf club just to fit into that creative idea of theirs.
Q. Yesterday you spoke about what the Federer/Nadal rivalry has meant to you. What are your thoughts on what playing against Rafa has brought out of you and what you make of your rivalry with him at this point?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, it’s certain that we played a lot of matches and a lot of finals in last 15 months. You know, since we are two top players, we meet mostly in the finals of the events, in Grand Slams.
For a change, it was great to win against him in some of those finals because, you know, I wasn’t managing to do that in last couple of years. He always got a win against me whenever we played in Grand Slams.
I think the first Grand Slam win I had over Rafa was actually here in Wimbledon, if I’m not mistaken.
You know, when you’re playing your top rivals, you need to be focused on every ball. It looks like you need to be on a top of your level in order to get the win. So whatever surface it is, I mean, Rafa over the years, people were maybe talking maybe four or five years ago that he can only play on clay courts because of his style of game, producing a very hard topspin that does not really go with a grass court style.
He’s proved them wrong and he’s coming back and always improving, always wanting to be better on the court. He won two Wimbledon titles; played a couple of finals. There is not anymore I think advantages in favors, my favor, Rafa’s, Roger’s, whenever we are playing each other on any surface. We’re all kind of equal in a way. I think we have equal 50/50 chances to win. I think that’s the case right now.
Q. Just to follow up, what do you think Rafa has brought out of you?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Like I said before, both Roger and Rafa made me a better player. They made me understand what to do tactically, mentally, against them when I’m playing in the later stages of a Grand Slam.
Q. What was it like to walk out on Centre Court, first match on Monday as the defending champion?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: It’s a very unique feeling. I think that’s the first time I experienced that in my career. I think this is the only tournament that actually allows you to have information 12 months in advance when you’re playing.
It is great for a change, because in tennis we don’t really have that many cases that we know exactly when we’re playing. Usually second or third after 11:00 or things like that.
So it was great. You know, the grass was untouched. It was so soft, so smooth. It was great to play in.
Q. Could you speak a little bit about the atmosphere of the Centre Court. A lot of players used to say it’s very quiet. Do you agree?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yes. It is quieter than maybe comparing to the other center courts of the other Grand Slams.
But you feel that tradition and the history of tennis, of sport, in this tournament, especially Centre Court. So many legends have won the trophies here, the trophies that made them big tennis stars.
This is, in my opinion ‑ and many players’ opinion ‑ the most respected, the most well‑known tennis tournament in the world.
It is quieter. It feels like a theater in a way. But the crowd gets into it when they have reason for it. I was participating in a couple of long matches on Centre Court with I think Olivier Rochus. We played under the roof and went to the late hours. That was really exciting. The crowd loved it last year against Baghdatis.
The crowd here understands. I think they have a great knowledge about tennis.
Q. Do you remember your first game against Ferrero seven years ago on clay, and how much do you think your game has changed?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: To be honest, I had to look up the head‑to‑head score because I didn’t know how many times we played if we played. I mean, first match we played 2005 I think in Umag where you lost in straight sets, and then I won against him two years after that in Madrid. We haven’t played for five years. That’s a long period.
You know, as I was saying before the match, he’s a former No. 1 of the world. That says enough about his qualities. Obviously he prefers more slower hard courts and clay courts, but he’s been playing here quarterfinals, if I’m not mistaken, a couple of years ago.
So he understands what he needs to do. The grass is not like it used to be, you know, more suitable to maybe serve and volley players. Now it’s more about baseline players, which made him more dangerous for me in this match. The first two sets were exciting and close. I was very satisfied with my performance.
Q. Earlier in your career you went through a tough time where you had some injuries and people were critical. Andy Murray is going through his back injuries. Some are questioning what’s happening. What are your thoughts about Andy and when an athlete has injuries and there’s skepticism about it?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: It’s hard to really make a judgment or say what is going on, you know, if you really don’t know an exact nature of the injury and to what degrees he’s hurt or not. I mean, I know him for a long time. I know he’s a great competitor. He’s a great fighter. I mean, he has a lot of pressure. There’s no doubt. A lot of expectation, especially here in Great Britain. A lot of people want him to be a first British winner in many years here in Wimbledon.
I think he’s got three or four semifinals. He’s always here. He’s just missing that extra step. Maybe that little bit of confidence and self‑belief on the important moments against the top players in the semifinals of Grand Slams.
But he has all the qualities to be there, you know, to be a Grand Slam winner. There is no doubt.
And regarding the injuries, yes, I went through that period in my life where people were questioning my injuries. But I never, ever been in doubt if I want to use my injury timeout to, you know, provoke my opponent or do something similar.
If I’m hurt, I’m hurt. If something is wrong, then something is wrong. I never asked for any medical timeouts or things like that if I have no reason. So I believe that’s the situation with him.
Q. How do you relax when you’re in Wimbledon, and is your girlfriend here at the moment?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yes, she is. We have a little dog with us. So we are staying at the house. It’s a little fluffy toy poodle. It’s four years old and cute as candy.
Q. What is the dog’s name?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: It’s Pierre, a French name, bought in Germany, and we consider him Serbian. He has a little bit of everything. Has three passports.
Q. Is he gluten free?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: He definitely is. He has to go along with his daddy.