Novak Đoković: "I'm not feeling thát internal joy of playing any more." Quoted in l'Équipe by @franckramella http://abonnes.lequipe.fr/Tennis/Actualites/Novak-djokovic-je-ne-ressens-plus-cette-joie-interieure-de-jouer/735224 (sub)
You're about to play in your first tournament since the US Open. Where are you right now?
- It's not going too badly. I've been training the last two weeks and trying to get into competition mode.
Can you explain your recent statements, made in Serbia, on the changes in priorities in your life, that being number one or winning big tournaments are from now on secondary to feeling pleasure being on the court?
- There's not much to add to that. Let's say my approach is different. I've found it very difficult to take advantage of my time on court after Roland Garros. I was exhausted mentally and emotionally. The last three months have been marked by highs and lows. I don't feel that internal joy of playing. So my priority is to find above all else that internal joy, to feel happy on the court. Everything else is secondary.
This new way of looking at things, it's also a way of getting away from the pressure of expectations, no?
- I understand that some will see it that way, and you can look at it from different angles. But I'm honest and I'm only saying what I feel. At this moment, I really feel I need to take care of that aspect. I've already said in the past that holding a racquet and playing tennis brought me happiness, because it's about playing a game. But lately I've been stressing myself and expecting too much. Not only me, but the people around me also. At a certain moment, you end up losing a sort of balance. And balance counts enormously in life. So I'm trying to rediscover that optimal frame of mind, that balance that leads you to joy.
It could be a long road ...
- How much time will it take? I don't know. But I feel it's already getting better because I've changed my frame of mind. I'm not the same as I was three months ago, not the same as six months ago. You evolve. You learn constantly to know yourself better and to grab what life offers you to try and grow. And that, that's my priority at the moment.
But does that mean that you'd be content with making quarters and semis if you find that internal joy you mentioned?
- Listen, I don't know what the future will bring me. It's not in my hands. The only way to predict the future is to create the future. I'm trying to create a future where I'll be in the moment. I don't want to think about what's happened or what's going to happen. For me today, that's the best way of thinking for me. When I say I'm not ONLY interested in winning and lifting trophies, that doesn't mean I'm not interested at all. Obviously, every time I go out on the court, it's to give my best for the victory. But I don't have that pressure any more of accomplishing things in my career that I haven't yet accomplished, because I can be proud of the results that I've already had. That's the phase I feel I'm in at the moment, and we'll see what the future brings ...