Novak Djokovic is "excited" to return to action at Paris Masters, says USO crowd support was a "win for life" even though he lost the final

Novak Djokovic training ahead of the 2021 Rolex Paris Masters
Novak Djokovic training ahead of the 2021 Rolex Paris Masters

Novak Djokovic interacted with the media ahead of the start of the 2021 Paris Masters on Sunday, giving insights on a wide range of topics. Djokovic spoke about returning to the court and chasing another year-ending No. 1 trophy, as well as the situation around the 2022 Australian Open and the support he got from the crowd at this year's US Open.

Djokovic began by stating he was "excited" to be back on tour after a two-month hiatus. The Serb stressed that 2021 has been an "exhausting" season for him so far, especially since he's been immensely successful.

Novak Djokovic was chasing a Calendar Golden Slam earlier this year but failed to win a medal at the Olympics. He also fell agonizingly short of winning the Calendar Slam as he lost to Daniil Medvedev in the final of the US Open.

"Yes, I am excited to come back to competition," Djokovic said. "It's been a while that I have played an ATP event. Last few events were Grand Slams and Olympic Games."
"You know, it was an exhausting season overall," he added. "Very successful one, but it did require a lot of mental effort and energy to deal with a lot of things also off the court and all the expectations and pressures of potential Calendar Slam, Golden Slam."

Novak Djokovic is now on the cusp of ending the season as World No. 1 for the seventh time in his career. If he does seal the top spot again, it would break the tie he currently shares with Pete Sampras.

Daniil Medvedev is the only player who can stop the Serb from claiming the No. 1 spot, but he has an uphill task on his hand.

Djokovic acknowledged in his presser that he is in a "pretty good position" with regard to winning the year-ending No. 1 trophy. He also expressed his desire to do well at the Davis Cup and finish the season strongly as the top-ranked player in the world.

"The year-end No. 1 is on the line between Medvedev and myself, and I'm in a pretty good position in terms of the ranking points and the race," Djokovic said. "So that's obviously the goal for the end of the season other than trying to do well in the Davis Cup with the national team. Hopefully I can have a strong finish of the season and clinch that year-end No. 1."

Novak Djokovic was then asked about the love and respect that he has been getting from tennis fans in recent months.

The Serb has generally enjoyed less crowd support than his fellow Big 3 members Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. Djokovic was even heckled at this year's Wimbledon, and he wasn't the crowd favorite in most of his matches at Roland Garros either.

But the tables turned at the US Open; Djokovic was the apple of everyone's eye throughout the fortnight. Fans rooted for him and egged him on even as he lost to Medvedev in the final, leaving the Serb visibly touched during the presentation ceremony.

Djokovic reiterated on Sunday that he was very grateful for the response he received from the New York crowd this year. He even claimed that the fan support was "a win for life", despite the fact that he lost the final.

"Of course I'm disappointed that I lost the match, but I feel like I was blessed to experience love from the crowd and support from the stadium that I have never experienced before in my life in New York, and actually not in many places around the world," Djokovic said. "And that kind of energy that I received from the crowd, from the moment I stepped in the court until I stepped out, is a win for life, is a win for for this human relationship. They just, as I said, on the court touched my heart."
Novak Djokovic thanks the crowd at the 2021 US Open
Novak Djokovic thanks the crowd at the 2021 US Open

The World No. 1 went on to express his desire for more such crowds wherever he plays. Djokovic also admitted that he "did not expect" such a reception at this year's US Open, pointing out how he hasn't enjoyed much support the last 15 years.

"Well, I hope to have that kind of relationship with the crowd, in New York, in France. This feeling that I had in New York was very special," Djokovic said. "I did not expect this. For the last 15 years I did not have this support, and I was very much moved by the crowd's support, and I'm very grateful."

Novak Djokovic further admitted he was disappointed by his defeat, especially since he was on the cusp of tennis immortality. But in the same breath he stressed that he still saw the final against Medvedev as a "win" because he was able to get the crowd on his side.

"It is true that I am sad for this loss, for this particular match, because it was one of the greatest matches of my career," Djokovic added. "But it was still a win for me, because I did win the crowds over. So it's also very important for my personality, for my emotional state, and I hope that I can draw upon this energy here in Paris."

Novak Djokovic gives his thoughts on the 2022 Australian Open

Novak Djokovic with his 2021 Australian Open title
Novak Djokovic with his 2021 Australian Open title

There has been intense speculation about Novak Djokovic's participation in the 2022 Australian Open given the prevailing COVID-19 situation.

While no rules have been set in stone for the Melbourne Slam so far, the Premier of Victoria has repeatedly suggested that unvaccinated players will not be allowed to take part in the Australian Open. On the other hand, Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison recently claimed that unvaccinated players will be allowed into the country.

Novak Djokovic's vaccination status has been a big talking point amid these contradictory reports. But the Serb has time and again asserted that he will remain tight-lipped on the matter, as he considers it to be something private.

During his press conference on Sunday, Djokovic explained that he would take a decision about the Australian Open only after Tennis Australia released an official statement stating all the requirements. The Serb also stressed that he wouldn't answer any questions on the subject until there was more clarity from Tennis Australia.

According to Djokovic, speaking about the issue would only add fuel to the speculation that is already raging in the media.

"Well, I'm going to decide on whether I go to Australia or not after I see the official statement from Tennis Australia," Novak Djokovic said. "Right now we don't have any official announcement or statement. So until that's out, I won't be talking about this anymore, because I don't want to be part of the stories about the assumptions and what-ifs."
"When official condition requirements to travel to Australia and play in Australia are out, then obviously I'll see what I personally do with that," he added. "And also the bigger group of the players, because the situation is obviously different in Australia than most parts of the world."

Novak Djokovic showers rich praise on Daniil Medvedev, says the Russian is becoming an "all-round player"

Novak Djokovic after beating Daniil Medvedev in the 2021 US Open final
Novak Djokovic after beating Daniil Medvedev in the 2021 US Open final

Novak Djokovic was also asked for his thoughts on his biggest rival, Daniil Medvedev. In response, Djokovic claimed that Medvedev's biggest strength is his first serve.

"He has a tremendous serve," Djokovic said. "Once he has the rhythm on the serve, he has a very high percentage of that first serve, and he hits his spots in the box incredibly well. That's the biggest weapon of his game, without a doubt."

Djokovic then shifted his focus to Medvedev's backhand, pointing out how the Russian is nearly impenetrable off that wing. The Serb also acknowledged the fact that Medvedev has greatly improved his forehand in recent times.

"And then, of course, that backhand that is very flat, and he's just as strong as a wall from that side, he just doesn't miss," Djokovic added. "On the forehand side, that side was weaker in the previous years. He has improved that a lot, so there is not a big weakness on that side of the court for him anymore as much as maybe it was some years ago."

The Serb further highlighted that Daniil Medvedev is incredibly agile for someone who is well over six feet in height. Djokovic went on to state that Medvedev is a very intelligent player who knows how to position himself on the court.

"You know, he's tall. He's very agile for his height, I think," Djokovic said. "He gets a lot of balls back. He's game savvy. He understands how to use the court, how to position himself when he's defending, when he's attacking. I think his net game has improved, as well. So he doesn't hesitate to come forward."

Novak Djokovic believes that Daniil Medvedev had a few deficiencies in his game earlier, which he is now overcoming to become a more complete player.

"You know, he's always been an overall player, but he did have certain differences in his game," Djokovic said. "Or maybe weaknesses if you want to call them that way, where you could figure out the way to beat him."
"But nowadays, he's becoming more all-around player, more complete," the Serb added. "And as a result, he's a Grand Slam champion fighting for year-end No. 1. As I said, it comes as no surprise to me."

Edited by Musab Abid
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