Australian Open

Saturday, 28 January 2023

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Novak Djokovic

Press Conference


7-5, 6-1, 6-2

THE MODERATOR: Since this will serve also as a pre-final press conference, we'll start by asking Novak to look ahead to Sunday, 10th Australian Open final, but also so much on the line. The winner will also be No. 1 the following Monday. Talk through all those things and the matchup with Stefanos.

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I'm, of course, very satisfied and pleased to be in another Grand Slam finals. I mean, this is exactly what I've imagined and hoped that will happen when I came to Australia, with intention to be in a position to fight for another Australian Open trophy.

I think that the experience of being in this particular situation and circumstances before helps. I think also the fact that I never lost the Australian Open finals definitely serves as a great confidence booster prior to Sunday.

But, of course, still the job needs to be done on the court. I'm going to play against Tsitsipas, who is in a great shape, great form, has been playing some of his best tennis. I'm sure that he's going to be very motivated to win his first Grand Slam title.

I know his game pretty well. He knows my game well. We played several times in different surfaces. We played in one Grand Slam finals, was on clay, though, in Roland Garros some years ago.

I know what's ahead of me, and I'm excited. Fortunately for me at this stage of my career, because of all the achievements, it is always basically every match or every tournament there is always something on the line, particularly when the Grand Slams are played.

Of course, I'm privileged to be in this position, and I'm hoping for the best.

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Did the situation surrounding your father over the last couple of days, his absence tonight, affect your performance and mood earlier in this match? Will he be back on Sunday in the arena?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, yeah, I saw, as everybody else saw, what happened yesterday. It was unfortunate that the misinterpretation of what happened yesterday has escalated to such a high level. There was, I would say, a lot of conversations with tournament director, with media and everyone else.

It has got to me, of course, as well. I was not aware of it till last night. Then, of course, I was not pleased to see that.

My father, my whole family, and myself, have been through several wars during '90s. As my father put in a statement, we are against the war, we never will support any violence or any war. We know how devastating that is for the family, for people in any country that is going through the war.

That's the first thing I want to say.

The second thing I want to say, my father, as he said in the statement, has been going after every single match to meet with my fans at the main square here in Australian Open, to thank them for the support, to be with them, pay them respect, and make photos.

The photo that he made, he was passing through. I heard what he said in the video. He said, Cheers. Unfortunately some of the media has interpreted that in a really wrong way.

I'm sorry that that has escalated so much. But I hope people understand that there was absolutely no intention whatsoever to support any kind of war initiatives or anything like that.

My father, as I said, was passing through. There was a lot of Serbian flags around. That's what he thought. He thought he was making photo with somebody from Serbia. That's it. He moved on.

Of course, it's not pleasant for me to go through this with all the things that I had to deal with last year and this year in Australia. It's not something that I want or need.

I hope that people will let it be, and we can focus on tennis.

Q. Have you made a decision about whether he's back in the stadium Sunday?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Let's see. Of course, it wasn't, again, pleasant not to have him in the box. It's a decision that we made together. Just didn't know how things will play out, I guess.

Yeah, I hope to have him. I hope he's going to be feeling okay to be in the courts because I would like to have him there for the finals.

Q. You've won your matches comfortably so far, dropping just the one set. To me it seemed like it's been quite a stressful fortnight for you. I don't know if that is the case, if you feel it's been more stressful than some of the other more recent Grand Slams, and if so what some of the reasons for that might be.

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I don't think it's particularly different in terms of stress or what I'm going through on the court comparing to most of the other slams I played in my life.

I mean, look, you know, final stages of a slam at this stage of my career, I know every single Grand Slam is a golden opportunity for me to try to get another trophy. I don't know how many more I'll have, opportunities.

Of course, I feel it. I feel pressure. I feel stress as any other player. I feel nerves. I feel excitement. There's a lot of different emotions that go through.

Today in the first set, obviously 5-1 up, serving for the set, and having a set point, then things quickly changed and I was really tight on the court. He came back to 5-All. I was struggling also physically and emotionally.

I guess in these kind of particular matches, at a final stages of a slam, you can expect to have crisis, one or two or three crises. The less the better.

But I did have. I'm really glad to overcome that crisis towards the end of the first set, then was quite smooth sailing, I would say, from the beginning of the second towards the end of the match.

Early in the second, early in the third I managed to make an early break, distance myself results-wise, finish out the match in good style.

Q. Very unique final. We have a Greek versus a Serbian, huge communities in this city. We have had some hecklers, unacceptable scenes of Russian fans. How important is it that individuals do not overstep the mark in the final on Sunday?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I hope that all the people who are going to come to the finals are going to be there for tennis and sport because that's what we all wish for. We all wish that players, fans focus on tennis, celebrate this beautiful sport, marvel one of the most special matches throughout the year, which is slam final. There is four slams, and this is one of them.

Again, I'm really excited and privileged to be in that finals against Tsitsipas. You mentioned communities, Serbian and Greek communities, are big, for sure. The Serbs and Greeks historically get along very well. I just don't think there's going to be any conflict on and off the court in terms of the crowd.

In contrary, I think I'm confident that people will support their respective players in a respectful way, and let's see what happens.

Q. You touched on every time you're on court or at a tournament, you want to hold the trophy. What would you say or have you thought of what the end game is for you, the end goal? When the time comes, I'm not trying to retire you, but when the time comes, what would you be satisfied that you've achieved?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I don't think there is a simple answer to that question, to be honest.

I was mentioning before that I played professional tennis for several different reasons. Some personal reason is that I feel on the tennis court I always have an opportunity to learn something new about myself, I guess fight with my own demons that I guess we all have. When we're on the tennis court in the midst of a battle, some of the things surface, and I have to deal with it. So it's a great school of life for me.

Then at the same time, of course, I have professional goals and ambitions. Those are Grand Slams and being No. 1 in the world. Those two probably pinnacles of the professional tennis world have always been there as goals for me. So I do want to make more history of this sport, no doubt.

I feel game-wise physically I still can sustain and maintain the top level. So as long as that's the case, why not keep going?

I don't know when the end is going to happen in terms of professional career. Right now I have the motivation, I have support of the close ones, which is also something that is probably underestimated and not maybe talked about a lot, but it's a key, especially as a father. I mean, being absent from the children is not something that makes me very happy.

I think it's a balancing act between me and my wife and the close people in my life. So her being there for our children and everything, it allows me to be able to do what I love and still make some strides, significant strides, in this sport.

Q. Last year's deportation, has that been on your mind over the past two weeks? Now that you're into the final, will it be relief if you win after everything that happened last year here?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Honestly, I'm over it. Once I came into Australia, my intentions were always very positive to come back. Of course, the feelings of coming back to Australia this year were different than any other year because of the events of last year.

I said many times that I don't hold any grudges, that I just love playing in Australia, love being here. That kind of emotion I feel like helped me to feel comfortable and to play well. I won Adelaide, now I'm in the finals of the Australian Open. I haven't lost a match in last five weeks in Australia.

I'm really glad to be here and play that well.

Q. I was hoping you could give us an insight into how you handle the intense scrutiny you deal with. Obviously the past fortnight, there's the hamstring, the toilet break, the drinks, now obviously your father. I've rolled off four things. How do you handle it and continue to succeed?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I mean, sounds like a cliché, but you really have to accept it. It's much easier said than done. In my case, I feel like things are just kind of piling on, adding on somehow for one reason or another.

Yeah, I mean, it's not an ideal situation or circumstances to be in when you have to kind of deal with all these other outside factors that are not really necessary during such an important event.

But it's been part of my life. Unfortunately last few years more so. I just try to evolve from it. I try to become more resilient, more stronger.

I think with the experience that I have with my routines, I feel like I'm strong enough to know what I need to do, when I need to do certain things. I'm able to switch off.

I have, of course, a team of people around me, my family members who are staying with me in the same accommodation or spending an entire day with me. I have an agreement with them that they give me this kind of protection. I don't want to hear things about what was written in this article or that news or that news. I want to keep my mind as sane or serene as possible in order to conserve the vital energy that I need for the court.

But in one way or another today, information comes to you. When it does, it's there, so then you have to find a way just to kind of accept, let it go, just not allow it to consume your day or turn your state of mind into something that you don't want, especially before semifinals or finals of a Grand Slam.

These are the moments where you're just like, okay, now it's about locking in, it's about creating your own space with your own people, being comfortable, and just trying to focus on what matters.

Q. When did you feel this level of scrutiny started? How far back?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I mean, look, there's no reason really to go into it. I mean, I've had throughout my career quite a few situations where I had to deal with quite a lot of things. Right now it's tough for me also to pick one or date when it started to happen.

It just kind of comes and goes. It really depends. Depends on some circumstances. Depends on, I guess, the energy, the vibe, whatever. It depends on a lot of things, a lot of factors. Tough to say.

Q. You said before that the thing with your father was misinterpreted. Did you discuss with him how important it might be, given your platform, for him to be careful because it might be a reflection of how he or you or your family feels about an issue like the Russian invasion?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I've already explained myself and he explained himself what happened. There was no intention.

Now you're basically asking me a question like he did it intentionally, like he's not being careful about what he's doing. It can happen. It can happen to many people what happened to him.

He was passing through, made a photo, it has escalated. He was misused in this situation by this group of people. That's what happened.

I can't be angry with him or upset because I can say it was not his fault. He went out to celebrate with my fans, and that's it. That's all that happened.

After that, of course he felt bad because of me and he knew how that's going to reflect on me, the whole media pressure and everything that has happened in the last 24 hours, 48 hours.

But it is what it is. You accept it and you move on.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports
128808-1-1004 2023-01-27 13:06:00 GMT

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