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Best Quotes: Novak Djokovic's Media Day In The Desert
5 Min Read · March 8, 2024

Before his opening match at the BNP Paribas Open on Saturday, Novak Djokovic spoke to the world’s media live from Indian Wells.

The men’s record 24-time Grand Slam winner touched on a number of topics, including his return to the desert for the first time in five years. He also spoke on his 2024 Australian Open loss, his friendship and rivalry with Rafael Nadal, and the upcoming Olympics Games.


On coming back to Indian Wells for the first time since 2019:

“There’s a reason why they call it Tennis Paradise. It’s an enjoyable experience for players, fans. Anybody that really loves this sport enjoys this tournament very much so I was very excited to come back. 

“It’s been five years and time flies incredibly fast. So yes, let’s hope I can have a good tournament. I’ve been practicing well. I arrived to Los Angeles quite early. We spent some time with family and now all ready to get into the competition mode”

On his Australian Open, where he lost to Jannik Sinner to end his 33-match winning streak in Melbourne:

“End of (2023), made some amazing records in the history of the sport that took a lot out of me and so I didn’t feel like I really had proper time to rest and do a proper preparation block like maybe I would normally do. But it is what it is. I don’t think I played my best tennis in Australia, whereas Jannik did.

“And he was just far better than me that day, and after that he made an incredible comeback in the final and won his first (Grand Slam) title, so it was absolutely deserved.”

On Rafael Nadal, who he shared a flight with to the US in late February but withdrew from Indian Wells this week:

“It was nice to see him and his family. I know he came in early because he really wanted to adjust to the time zone, get as much practice as possible, get himself ready to play. So he gave his best. It wasn’t to be, but I think he was always saying he wants his peak of his abilities during the clay court season, obviously with Roland Garros in a few months’ time.

“But again, there are new kids on the block, so to say. (Carlos) Alcaraz, (Jannik) Sinner, (Holger) Rune, that are leaders of the next generation, next, next, next generation. Obviously, (Daniil) Medvedev, (Stefanos) Tsitsipas, (Alexander) Zverev, (Andrey) Rublev, they are still Top 5, Top 10 in the world. These guys are amazing.

“I think tennis is in good hands. Hopefully the contribution we all made in the last 20 years can serve the purpose of expanding the popularity of tennis and growing the sport because the bottom line is that we all want that. We all are students of the sport, we all are passionate about it and want to see it grow. No one is bigger than the sport.”

Novak Djokovic spoke with the media ahead of his first match in Indian Wells since 2019.

On how many more majors he would have won if Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal hadn’t been around:

“‘What if, what if,’ is not really in my head. In terms of what more I could have won if it was not for these two guys, I try to see it from a different perspective of being really grateful that I had the rivalry I had with these two guys because they made me a better player. I said this a million times.

“When I won the Australian Open in 2008 I felt like, I broke the ice and am going to get into the mix with these two guys and try to dominate the sport and be the best, but for three years I wasn’t able to do that.

“So it took me really a while to break the code of Nadal and Federer, particularly in the biggest matches on the biggest stage. I just wasn’t able to win against them when it mattered the most…then the tables have turned and then I figured out what I need to do and kind of matured mentally, emotionally and, of course, physically. 

“As a player, more experienced. Then since that moment, my career has been going thankfully with an upward spiral, which is amazing, but it’s all due to them and the rivalries I had with them and lessons I had to learn, particularly the (matches) I lost against them early in my professional career.

“I remember John McEnroe saying (on TV)… that when Bjorn Borg retired he felt like a part of him also retired. He kept going. But I must say that it’s a similar feeling I have with Roger retiring and Rafa not playing much at all. It’s a strange feeling. I try to find a new rival (smiles) and I had some great matches with (Carlos) Alcaraz, (Jannik) Sinner lately, but they still remain the two biggest rivals I’ve ever had.” 

On possibly playing at the Los Angeles Olympics in 2028:

“Everything is on the cards, I just don’t know how many cards I have left (smiles). Let’s see. It’s still very far to think about the Los Angeles Olympic Games but the thought of it excites me, of course. Would love to play that but as we know, Olympics come every four years. I cannot really commit to that yet. I think I’ll take it year by year and just see how the body serves me, how passionate and committed I am.”

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