April 17, 2021

Novak Djokovic: Rivalry with Nadal is the most important thing in my life

Serb Novak Djokovic commented on his victory over Spaniard Rafael Nadal in the final of the Australian Open.

How do you rate this final compared to the other “Slams” finals?

– It was the best match. I was able to beat Nadal at the crucial stage of the tournament. In the semifinals and finals, I had only 15 mistakes. It’s amazing even for me, even though I know that I can play at this level. All things considered, it was just a perfect match.

– By the number of titles in the Grand Slam tournaments you managed to surpass Pete Sampras, who was your childhood idol. What do you feel?

– I always wanted to be like him. One of my first memories of tennis was his victory at Wimbledon in 1992. Then I was a child in Kopaonik, where nobody played tennis, and Pete and his victory became a certain sign from above. I have not yet realized that I surpassed his result on the “Slams”.

If a year ago you were told that you would win the last three “Slams”, what would you think?

– That the chances are not great, but they are. I don’t want to look arrogant, but I always believe in myself. This is the secret of success, not only mine, but also other athletes. You need to believe in your own strength, maintain a presence of mind in any situation and present yourself as a champion. I spend a lot of time on visualization, especially in the last year. I used to play poorly, I didn’t feel better, and I doubted everything. But I gained valuable experience. However, I would not want to change what happened. Everything turned out as it should have been. Yes, a year ago, three titles on the “majors” seemed impossible. I must understand how lucky I am.

Rod Laver believes that you are able to assemble a calendar “Slam”. What do you think about this?

– Apparently, I need to invite him to the team, because he is the only one in history who succeeded. Let’s see if I can do it. Before Roland Garros, I will have enough tournaments to get in shape on clay. Of course, I need to pay more attention to my game on this surface, because it has its own characteristics. Then I can claim the title. Of course, Nadal is the main favorite on the ground, but besides him there is Thiem, Zverev, Federer, who is likely to perform this season. They will also have time to prepare. For now, I want to enjoy this victory.

After the previous match, you said that you felt like a god. And this time?

– On the way to the final, both of us showed a great game and were confident that we have chances for success. It was important for me to kick off the match, show the opponent a serious attitude. Nadal always puts pressure on the opponent with his presence, from the first hand you realize that it will not be easy with him. He is the most focused and energetically moving. Looking through his matches, I noted that he improved the flow. And he and without her impressive arsenal of techniques. I had to break as early as possible. After winning the first set, I allowed myself to relax a bit, and the game went even easier.

You are probably the only player who managed to tactically disassemble Nadal. What do you feel?

– I would not like to say such loud words. Maybe I managed it in this match, but not forever. I am sure that we will meet again and again on different surfaces, because this is my most fundamental rivalry, which affects me both personally and professionally. We both improved our pitch. I can assure that we will continue to improve.

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