N. DJOKOVIC/I. Dodig
6 4, 6 3
An interview with:
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. I think most of us want to know what is the state of your physical fitness first with the back and now also the shoulder?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: The back? The back wasn't...
Q. It's totally okay?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yeah, no, the back wasn't in any kind of injury state. So it was only the shoulder that was a little bit troubling me in Basel, and I took the necessary measures, you know, in the last couple of days in order to recover in order to play in this tournament.
So, I mean, I'm very happy to be able to play and to win. I mean, I'm feeling good on the court, and that's what matters.
Q. Could you just talk us through now where you went and what you did between Switzerland or why did you not come...
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I cannot say everything. I mean, something is private. But I have been back home in Monaco, and then I have been trying to recover there with a team of people.
I took a couple of days off and I came here yesterday, you know, because I wanted to take time in recovery rather than just going out on the court the sooner the better to prepare for the conditions.
I think I have played already couple weeks indoors, so, you know, I don't need to I didn't need to come before than I did actually here in Paris.
I think that the conditions this year are much slower than they were last year. So, you know, I think, you know, I've served good enough, and I feel from the back of the court well enough to be competing. That's what matters actually for this week.
Q. Given your shoulder problem, though, would you have competed here if this was not a mandatory event?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: No, I mean, depends, you know, really. At this situation, you know, I really wanted to come, because, you know, I played Basel a couple matches, but, you know, I need more matches before London.
I really like playing in Bercy. I think it's one of the most entertaining indoor tournaments, and people are coming in numbers here to watch matches. I like playing it.
So this is the last, you know, last big, you know, 1000 tournament and obviously the best players in the world are playing here. And I want to compete, and that's the reason I came here.
Q. In terms of your full level, though, your full fitness, your full ability to compete, where would you put your status right now?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I think it's obvious that I'm still not top of my game. But I'm taking things quite slowly, you know, and taking step by step, knowing that the form will improve each day that I play.
I believe in that. I have been working quite hard in last couple of weeks after my injury, and, you know, I think things are going in the right direction.
So I want to play well here. I want to get as far as possible, and then London, you know, which is the most important tournament of this part of the year for all of us.
Q. The issue here, when I think of the bonus pool, even for someone like yourself, it's still an awful lot of money that you would have had to...
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yeah, yeah. Sorry.
Q. Well, you wouldn't be human if that wasn't a bit of an incentive.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, to be honest, it was really somehow funny for me to see how, you know, people are coming up with that story and discussing about you know, I even heard that I would get on the court and play a game, you know, just to get this money.
I mean, this is ridiculous, you know. Look, we are all athletes. This is our job. We are all playing to be paid at one stage, of course. This is normal. I don't see what's unusual in that.
On the other hand, I came here because I want to compete; I want to play a tournament. Then if I know that I'm physically good enough, in good condition to be competing, I will compete.
If I don't, I will not compete. It's as simple as that. There is nothing else that can affect my decision.
Q. Obviously you had a great year; had some problems with the body the last couple of months. Do you think you are kind of maybe just focused on 2012 already, or do you feel motivated to finish the season as strong as you started?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: No, well, I'm definitely intending to finish the season strong.
You know, maybe I'm physically paying dividends for the long season that I had, and, you know, the unfortunate injury after US Open, the Davis Cup, and everything. So I think everything is kind of catching up with me now.
But it's somehow expected, you know, after amount of the matches I played and the season length that I had.
But it's okay. You know, it's not the first time that I played this many matches. I know how to behave in these situations, and I know how to, you know I know how to have the right approach with my team, the preparation for each tournament.
Each match that I play, I really try to prepare myself 100% to win it. You know, regardless if it's a 250 event or Grand Slam, I really try to get my maximum on the court, because no one likes to lose.
Definitely I want to do well, take every day one day at a time here in Paris. I don't want to think about London or you know, it's still two very important tournaments coming up.
Q. Is it frustrating for you not to be playing your best at this point, considering how well you were playing earlier in the year?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I guess, you know, it's always frustrating, you know, when you're not playing your best.
But on the other hand, what is helping me is being realistic and being aware of the fact that I had a six weeks' break, that it takes times getting used to the indoor conditions.
I haven't been playing indoor first tournament in Basel was after Davis Cup final in 2010, so it's quite a long time.
As I said, I'm gradually increasing the level and hopefully every day will be better.
Q. Can you talk again about the surface? Is it for you an issue that it's much slower than last year, or do you think it's well, do you have to adjust and that's all?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, to be honest, talking with a lot of players, we all, I think, agree especially the top players on the fact that the tournaments prior to the World Tour Finals should have, if not the same, then very similar speed of the surface and surface itself, as in London, you know.
Because, you know, you're preparing, playing this tournament, and last year was very tricky. You know, we came from Basel where it's, you know, medium speed; came here, which was extra, extra fast speed of the court; and then went to London, which is a bit slower than both of the tournaments.
And so that's something that can be a little bit dangerous for the player for the injury and everything, because it's a change of the pace of the ball and change of the balls and surfaces as well.
From a personal perspective, I like the court being this way rather than super fast like last year.
Q. Obviously you've got the year end world No. 1 ranking wrapped up. How much pressure has that taken off you now with this tournament and London around the corner? And tell us how you feel about that now, being year end world No. 1.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, it's a dream come true, I think, for every athlete. You know, when you dream of becoming a professional athlete I think I'm not just talking for tennis I think for every sport you dream of being the best in what you do.
That dream came true for me this year winning Wimbledon; now having the year end No. 1 ranking, it's amazing, really. I'm enjoying it.
But I know that on the other hand, I do have responsibility that is increased by this position that I have. It's a new experience for me, so I'm still getting used to everything. Hopefully I can keep it as long as I can.
Q. There are some good rules in tennis and there are some rather silly ones at times. As the No. 1 player, if you can kind of almost take yourself out of this situation, Novak, the number of matches you played this year, number of titles and Masters you won, do you think it was fair to put you in a position where people were questioning whether you were actually going out on court to actually play a match or going out for the money?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, there are a lot of stories around. It's normal, I think, when you are one of the top players that you get some attention, and things that you do on and off the court are being watched. It's normal to kind of follow that up.
But I don't want to say if it's fair or not fair. I leave it to the people. Everybody has right to and freedom to say what they want and everybody has a right for their own opinion.
But, you know, as I said before, it's you know, I came here because I'm professional tennis player and I want to compete. That's all about that is.
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