The Serb opens up to the official Mutua Madrid Open media about his triumph last year and his expectations for the upcoming tournament.
The champion is looking to successfully retain his crown. Novak Djokovic (Belgrade, Serbia; 1987) returns to the Caja Mágica to defend a title he won from Andy Murray in 2016’s thrilling final.
The Serb, who has two Mutua Madrid Open trophies in his cabinet (2011 and 2016), will be going after the hat-trick this season at a tournament he has special affection for because of what he has experienced here in the past.
Question. In 2016 you claimed your second Mutua Madrid Open crown. What did that mean to you?
Answer. I had not played in Madrid for a couple of years so it was great for me to be able to play again. It was a fantastic week for me, I had tough opponents and we had some great battles, especially in the final against Andy which set the theme a little bit for the rest of the year. We then played many other finals in Rome, Paris and London.
Q. Did it help you in order to fight for the French Open?
A. Every tournament is different, but winning Madrid, which is a big Masters 1000 title, gave me a lot of confidence and it was nice to bounce back so quickly after losing early in Monte Carlo.
Q. The so-called Big Four has won every single Mutua Madrid Open edition since 2009. What is the significance of that?
A. People always talk about the dominance of the Big 4, I did not know we had won every edition of the Madrid event since 2009, that is pretty special for sure. But I can say that it has not been easy for me the two times I won as I always had tough matches and great opponents.
Q. You showed special affection for Manolo Santana throughout last year’s tournament. How important do you think he is for the Mutua Madrid Open?
A. Manolo is such a gentleman, I respect him a lot for what he has done for tennis and it is great we have one of the best tennis courts in the world named after him. He is always so nice to all the players and makes sure we have a great time in Madrid.
Q. What do you think makes Madrid stand out compared to other tournaments?
A. It is pretty amazing that they have three rooves over the three main courts and also the catering is incredible. It is a tournament with very high standards.
Q. And as a city? Last year Andy Murray said he loves tapas.
A. It is a very vibrant city with a lot of things to do – museums, parks, restaurants, etc. I enjoy the atmosphere and the people are very knowledgeable about tennis.
Q. How are you feeling coming into the 2017 tournament?
A. I’m looking forward to getting back to Madrid and enjoying my tennis.
Q. How do you see Nadal’s season so far?
A. Rafa has had a great start to 2017, he was very close to winning the Australian Open and will be very dangerous on clay. It is his best surface for sure.
Q. What are your thoughts on Federer’s return?
A. Roger proved in Melbourne what a great champion he is, coming back from six months off to win another title. It is great for tennis to have him back on the tour.
Q. What can we expect from the #NextGenATP Players this season?
A. They are definitely knocking on the door and challenging us already. I think it is a great time in men’s tennis as you have the players at the top as well as the next generation coming through and it should make for some great stories this year as we have already seen in the first few months.