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Champ Novak serves it funny side up

In years past, Novak Djokovic marked his victories at the Australian Open with rowdy late-night celebrations and bleary-eyed photo shoots the next morning in downtown Melbourne.

sports Updated: Jan 29, 2013 02:47 IST

In years past, Novak Djokovic marked his victories at the Australian Open with rowdy late-night celebrations and bleary-eyed photo shoots the next morning in downtown Melbourne.

This year’s win made history but inspired a more sober reaction.

Before heading off to a quick exit to Europe, the Serb, who beat Andy Murray 6-7 (2), 7-6 (3), 6-3, 6-2 in Sunday’s final, spent time with world media. Excerpts from the post-match conference:

Last year you were in here about 4:00 in the morning. This is a good time to finish, I guess. Relatively early. (Djokovic beat Rafael Nadal in five hours and 53 minutes in the 2012 final).

How hard was this match for you?

It’s hard. I mean, when you play one of your biggest rivals and somebody that is in the top form in finals of a Grand Slam, there is a lot to play for.

I think it went 2 hours, 20 minutes, the first two sets. I think that says enough about the intensity of the match.

How does this compare with the others you’ve won, the feeling?

Every tournament, especially the major tournaments, is very special. So every win, of course also adding to that the history part, you know, winning it three in a row, it’s incredible. It’s very thrilling. It’s going to give me a lot of confidence for the rest of the season, that’s for sure.

You and Andy are two of the best returners in the game, but it took 31 games in this match before anybody broke serve.

Well, we both served well. I was serving better against him today in the first two sets than I’ve done in any of the match in the last two years. But I knew that he’s incredible returner and has that ability to make you play always an extra shot.

To be able to get a lot of free points on the serve was definitely a positive.

Andre Agassi always played very well in this tournament. You got the trophy from him tonight. Is there something similar in your attitudes, styles?

Maybe the style of clothing that we had. He had many colours and I love colours, so on that regard maybe there is some similarities.

But, no, also he’s I think one of the players that changed the game. Not just the game itself, but also the way people see it. He made a huge impact on the sport by changing the style. He was, I think, one of the first baseline groundstroke players on the tour. Most of the players before him were playing serve and volley. That’s where the game started to change a bit and you could have more players winning the events from the baseline.

Are you changing the game, too? If yes, in what aspect do you think?

I’m just trying to play this game with 100% of devotion, love, passion, and fun also. I mean, 25 years old and I won six Grand Slams and have a lot of trophies. It’s amazing. I’m just trying to embrace this moment and enjoy it as much as I can and see where tomorrow brings me.

Is the French Open a priority for you now?

Priority for me now is to enjoy this victory. I try to enjoy it for few days with the people I love the most, family, friends, and team. And then after I turn to the rest of the season. It’s Davis Cup already coming up, indoors, clay courts, next weekend, so that’s going to be a lot of fun (smiling).

And then after that, obviously there is still four or five months till the French Open. Of course, I want to go all the way in French Open. I went to the finals last year and had a great match against Rafa (Nadal), but he’s always the favourite on that surface and he’s the ultimate player to beat on clay.

Do you think you’re the funniest guy in players nowadays? Do you think (smiling)?

I also heard from some ball kids, they said you are always funny. I notice you said hello to Jie Zheng in Chinese in the press conference, too. What is your philosophy in life for humour?

It’s tough to find a rational answer for that question. But the only thing I can say is I try to enjoy what I do and every moment of the life that I have is a blessing. I mean, what else can you do but to be happy and try to, you know, bring that joy to the other people around. Everybody has bad days. I’m not always funny or laughing. It’s normal. But generally I’m aware of the fact that it’s an incredible trip for me, you know, being a professional tennis player.

Courtesy: Australian Open

Djokovic sweetens the deal

Novak Djokovic wrapped up his victory at the Australian Open on a sweet note.

A master at playing to his audience, Djokovic came with several boxes of chocolates to his post-match news conference and played host as he distributed them to a room packed with journalists.

"Please, take two," Djokovic said, offering his box of treats to one reporter at a time. "I see nobody’s on a sugar free diet," he joked as the chocolates began to disappear. He then apologised to reporters for canceling the winner’s traditional day-after news conference scheduled for Monday but said he wanted to get back to Europe to begin practicing for the Davis Cup, which starts next weekend. That’s when he brought out the chocolates, as a consolation prize. "Let’s keep it sweet," he added.