FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – In his postgame interview after his first round drubbing of Conor Niland, 6-0 5-1 (Withdrew), Novak Djokovic was posed this question:
Speaking of entertainment, for years you were trying to pass Roger and Rafa. In terms of entertainment, Rafa is almost like a rock star. He’s so appealing. And Roger is beautiful and perfect and graceful. How do you think you’re taken and received here in North America?
To that the No. 1 seed responded: “What about me?”
Well some people call him the space cowboy and some the gangster of love.
To the rest of us he’s The Djoker and he very well can be on his first US Open title.
Actually, Djokovic is having a very good year, winning both the Australian Open and Wimbledon, while getting to the Semifinals of the French Open. If he continues on his torrid pace and takes the crown in Flushing Meadows, it may go down as the best year for a player in history.
“Sounds big,” he laughed when asked the question. “No, this year has been tremendous, best so far in my career, and there has been a lot of talks about history making and this incredible run.
“No doubt I’m extremely honored and privileged to be part of the elite of the players that have made, you know, the history of the sport in some ways.
“But my main focus is really on the court. I need to take one match at a time. That’s the only way I can really perform well.”
For any athlete, especially one like Djokovic, staying healthy is the most important aspect to winning. After Wimbledon, the 24 year had shoulder problems, which caused him to sit out the rest of the summer after the Cincinnati Open.
“Well, the shoulder in Cincinnati didn’t feel good obviously, and throughout the whole week I was carrying the, you know, kind of pain and discomfort in my shoulder,” Djokovic said. “But after Cincinnati I took some time off, and I did everything in order to recover the shoulder. Today I didn’t feel any pain. I served well and I played well, so I have no concern.”
Yet the rest of the field may have some concerns, especially with this champion stepping up his game. Although an American audience will root for Mardy Fish or Andy Roddick to advance, the tennis watching world probably is pulling for a Djokovic to take on Rafael Nadal or Roger Federer.
Yet, that’s still pretty far off in the future, as it’s a long two weeks. The Dark Knight will wait for the Djoker. Up until then Flushing Meadows will enjoy this young attacker, who is enjoying a resurgence after ticking off the crowd with some on the court comments a few years ago, making him an arch villain.
“Well, you know, it’s equally important, of course, to play well on the court and to do your job to win, you know,” he said. “As much as you’re successful and as much as you win, you get more attention from the media and from the people, and you get more respect, obviously, from your colleagues.
“But I think it’s really important as well to carry yourself off the court in a good way. I have been learning that throughout my whole career, and last couple of years I have experienced some good and bad situations on and off the court.
“But I accepted that all as a big lesson in my life and, you know, something that can serve me well for my future. You know, I’m aware of the responsibility that I have as a present No. 1 to, you know, represent the sport as well in some ways off the court.
“So I need to do that in a best possible way. You know, I’m trying. You tell me, how am I doing?”
Pretty well, Novak. Pretty well.