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Monday, January 21, 2013

Djokovic's Self-Belief Runs Deep after 5-Hour Victory over Wawrinka

The well of Novak Djokovic's self-belief runs deep. For the third time in a year Djokovic has won a five-hour match. This time he had to fight back from almost two sets down to defeat Stanislas Wawrinka.

Next you will see some of the post-match interview with Djokovic. His answers reveal the confidence exuding from him, and how his attributions enable to remain confident in such a tough situation.

Q.  You changed your shoes after the first set.  Did that make a big difference?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Yeah, started slipping on the court during the first and beginning of second.  Yeah, I don't know.
I changed the shoes, but to be honest, I mean, that's not the reason why I started maybe better.  I just refocused.
And even though when I was 6 1, 5 2 down, I believed that I can come back if I am two sets down.  I've been in those situations before.  I was just outplayed by my opponent.  He was better on the court for first hour and a half, no question about it.
In this circumstances when you're not playing the way you want to play, you just try to fight and hope for the best.

I love the fact Djokovic took responsibility and credited Wawrinka for playing better. At the same time, it is clear he believed he could turn it around. Novak believes he controls what happens to him and by playing better he will win the match. No panic in that response.

Q.  How much do you think all those matches you've won like this in recent years helped you out in the fifth set like that?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  It helps you, I guess, mentally in the end the most because it is physically very demanding for both of us.  Obviously, we pushed each other to the limit.
But in the end these kind of matches, after five hours, definitely help your confidence.  As I said on the court, these are the matches that you live for, you practice for.  You want to be on the center court and play on such a high level for five hours.
It's incredible.

There is no greater source of confidence than having won big matches against the best. When you beat Rafa, Roger, and Andy you know you can do just about anything. I also appreciate how Djokovic accepted the moment and enjoyed it. He does not shy away from the big moment, he wants it. Like all of the greats he wants that big stage and sees it as an opportunity, not as something to fear.

Q.  How tired were you?  Were you more tired tonight than last year in the final?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  No.  I mean, last year after the whole tournament, last year I was definitely exhausted, you know, after the whole tournament.
But tonight there is no doubt I'm not very fresh.  It's normal to expect after five hours of play.
But still I've been in those situations before.  I remember most recently, four months ago when I won against Murray in the semis after five hours, and then played against Rafa almost six hours.
I know I can recover.  I know I have it in me.  I wasn't too much worried about the physical part.  I was ready for it.  I was ready to go the distance, and I've done so.  Hopefully I can take that day off tomorrow and recover for quarters.

Another source of great confidence is to know that you have the conditioning to withstand the brutal marathon of men's tennis. Djokovic's recovery last year from playing Murray for five hours and then Rafa for six  is mythical. It just does not happen. But, when you know you can dig that deep and have enough to beat the best in the world then you have a very deep well of self-belief. Djokovic believes he can win in any situation.

Djokovic's confidence should be at an all-time high. He knows he is fit, recovers better than anyone, and has succeeded, especially at the Aussie Open, in the most extreme circumstances. Djokovic will be ready for any adversity he faces in 2013, and he will face it head on with self-belief and commitment. And, that is why he is now the best tennis player in the world.

Quotes are from

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