Novak Djokovic faced the media moments after he lost 6-4, 6-3 to Roger Federer, in a defeat that ended his hopes of finishing the year as world No 1 and also ended his interest in the ATP Finals. This is what he had to say:
Q. Just talk us through the match a bit from your side and what went wrong.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: It was not much that I did right this match, to be honest. I mean, realistically he was better player in all aspects and absolutely deserved to win.
He served great, moved well, returned my serve very well. From his end, I think he did everything right. From my end, I just — you know, I was just playing too neutral. I couldn’t read his serve well. Just a pretty bad match from my side.
Q. I remember you saying at the Wimbledon final they were on Roger’s side, and you remember saying to us that in your head they were cheering “Novak.” In the O2 arena, it’s a more intimate setting. They’re close to you. How did the crowd affect you during the match?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I mean, look, it was an important match, and I think every time I face Roger or Rafa anywhere in the world, it’s a lot of excitement.
So it was a full stadium, which was nice to see. It was loud. It was electric. You know, it was a good atmosphere.
Q. You held your elbow at the start of the second set, looked in a bit of pain. Is that similar to the problem you had before? Is that something we should be concerned about? Will you make the Davis Cup next week?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yeah, well, I hope it’s nothing that will really unable me to play Madrid. You know, the pain was pretty sharp.
But I could play the rest of the match, so, you know, if I had something really serious, I think I wouldn’t be able to hold the racquet. So it was probably just an awkward, quick movement that I did. It did not pose any form of issues later on.
Q. Does the three-setter from Tuesday have some influence on your today’s performance?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Maybe. Maybe not. I don’t know. Mentally it was tough to lose a match like that a few nights ago.
Yeah, I started off this tournament amazingly. I felt great. Won Paris. Played really well. Just probably things kind of shifted in terms of the way I feel on the court, and my confidence level wasn’t high today, so Roger could sense that and he used it very well.
Q. You won two Grand Slams this year, but does this put any kind of downer on the year, or overall are you still happy with everything?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I’m not happy with the way I finished the season. I mean, obviously this is not the way I want to play on the court, first of all. You’ve got to accept that you have these kind of days and move on.
If I have to draw the line, I think it was still a very good season, winning two Slams and five titles. Of course I’m still hot-headed off the court, but all in all, it was a good season.
Q. It’s a little bit the same question, I’m sorry. Okay, you didn’t win. You played badly tonight, but still a great year. Every player would have loved to win two slams in one year and plus other tournaments. So at the end, what is your feeling?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yeah. Well, of course you try to look at positives. As I said, I just came off the court under not such a positive impression of my game and the way I ended the season, as I said.
Not to repeat it again, it was a good season and, you know, tomorrow probably will reflect on it in a different way.
Q. You handle pressure very well, as a rule. Has the hype surrounding the whole No. 1 scenario got to you at all? Has it been niggling away in sort of the back of your head?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, look, you know, it was on the line. Of course that was a big motivation also for the end of the season, but, yeah, I mean, every time you step on the court, you know there is something on the line, I mean, at least on the highest level in tennis.
So, you know, I feel pressure and excitement all the time, every single match, especially if I play against the best players in the world.
Q. I watched before a couple of days one nice picture of you and your kids nearby the water. How do you feel about tomorrow, from tomorrow? Are you going to have so much time with your kids? Maybe this will help you cool a little bit after your performance?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yeah, of course. I get back now to the house, they will probably be sleeping, but I will spend some time with them. Not too many days, because I have to go to Madrid for Davis Cup.
Then after that I get to spend some time in the off-season. You know, it puts things in perspective. When you have a family, obviously everything else falls into second place, and I am blessed to be a father. I can’t wait to spend some quality time with them.
Q. Considering what you just said, the fact that you didn’t play very well today and you lost to one of your two greatest rivals, does a loss like this tend to sit a little bit longer, even considering you’ve got to start thinking of Madrid? But will it fester in your mind for a little bit?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I mean, look, you know, I have lost so many matches in my life that I know how to move on. This is no different.
I mean, I played Roger now almost 50 times. Played Rafa, I don’t know, 50-plus times. So of course every loss is painful, but when you play your biggest rivals, you know, that adds a little bit of an extra flavor to that, you know, to the win or to the loss of the match.
But in the end of the day, you know, we’re professionals and I have been privileged to play this sport in the highest level for many years. So I think that gives me an experience on knowing how to accept things, move on, and look for another opportunity.
Q. From your unique vantage point, how extraordinary that a guy can play like that at 38? At the start he was moving incredibly well. Other sports like football, usually at 38, people can’t move as well. Do you ever think to yourself, how is he playing so well at this age?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, it motivates me. I mean, it shows me it’s possible (smiling).
No, I mean, well, I have utmost admiration for him and everything he’s doing on the court. What he has achieved over the years and what he’s still showing on the court is phenomenal.
I mean, he’s a role model even for me that I’m one of his rivals and, you know, one of the toughest opponents I had in my career. You know, looking at his career and what he still is doing, it just inspires you.
Q. When you won the Davis Cup back in 2011, 2010, it was a big turning point in your career? The format of the Davis Cup is changing this year. Is it still a big motivation for you? How much are you looking forward to next week? And are you confident you will be fit?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I’m hoping. You know, right now things physically are fine. Of course the gas tank is not as full as beginning of the season, but I am motivated to join the guys and play there, because I have not played in the team competition of Davis Cup for some time.
So I look forward to it. They are my dear friends, all of the guys in the team, and I can’t wait to feel that team spirit. The format is different. Should be exciting.
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