Sunday, 3 July 2011

Novak Djokovic - The Grass Tasted Good

Courtesy & Video: Official Wimbledon Website

It was a composed Novak Djokovic who came in to meet the world's press after the final, reflecting on his new-found status at the top of the tennis tree. If the air up there was heady, it did not show as he spoke calmly about the "best day of my life".

The new Wimbledon champion and world No.1 did, however, permit himself a few smiles on recalling he not only kissed the Centre Court grass as part of his celebration, but actually ate a few blades of it too.

"It tasted really quite good," he reported with a grin. "It's well kept. I don't know how to describe the feelings

I had in the moment when I won. The best feeling I ever had on a tennis court. Winning Wimbledon, looking at my box, 20 people, the closest people to me in my life being there, supporting me, getting to share that moment and that experience with them... it was incredible.
I don't know why I ate the grass. I felt like an animal! I wanted to see how it tastes. It came spontaneously. I didn't plan to do it. I didn't know what to do in all my excitement and joy."

Perhaps it will become a new tradition among Wimbledon winners. The old ritual of climbing up to the players' box to be with loved ones was eschewed by both Petra Kvitova and Djokovic this year. From now on, perhaps it will become de rigueur to snack on the grass before receiving the trophy - all thanks to Djokovic.

As for success, the Serb has acquired enough experience in his 24 years to know it can be a complicated business. So many observers expected so much more from him after he won his first Grand Slam, in Australia three years ago. Instead his tennis faltered. So now he feels in a position to understand fully the enormity of what he has achieved here.

He explained: "After I won my first Slam, actually then I started facing some feelings and situations I never faced before - defending the title, being one of the top players, facing the pressure, people's expectations all the time to go far in the major events, to get to the semi-finals at least.

"And I was facing periods that were up and down. I would be lying to you if I said I didn't have doubts. I did have difficult times of crisis where I didn't know if I could really make it, because Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer were so dominant."

So it really did matter coming in to this match that in all four of his previous matches against the Spaniard this year, Djokovic had emerged victorious. Nadal admitted as much in his own post-final musings and Djokovic agreed.

"Probably," he nodded. "I had that in the back of my mind. I was trying to take myself back to those matches and perform in the same way that I did on those days - be aggressive, take my chances, not give him the opportunity to take back control."

It worked. So what now? Celebrations, of course - "how the Serbs celebrate" he grinned - but then what?

"I will definitely come for some more Wimbledons, more Grand Slam trophies," he smiled. And the chance to represent his country at the Olympics when the tennis is staged at Wimbledon next summer?

"I have achieved the two biggest things in my life in the last three days, but I will definitely not stop here. I want to be a tennis champion. This is what I am born for."

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