SHANGHAI, China (October 11, 2012) – here are a few of the notable quotes from Thursday’s news conferences at the Shanghai Rolex Masters.
What’s on the bookshelf?
Q. We talked about a Nobel prize winner the other day and you said you read a lot. What are you reading now and what is your favorite writer?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, Ivan Ivo Andric is one of the Nobel prize winners, one of the biggest Serbians we have. I’m not really sure if you know him. He’s one of my favorite writers obviously.
Right now, during the tournaments, I usually like to read some easy reads, easy books. Let’s say fiction, like Hunger Games, that trilogy that I read. That’s something that keeps me interested in a book but also doesn’t require much mental involvement, if you want to call it.
When I have a little bit more time and I have no matches, then something a little bit more psychological, I guess.
Q. I just want to know what kind of books do you read, who are your favorite writers?
ANDY MURRAY: I don’t read books. I mean, I go on the Internet a lot and read stuff online, but I don’t read books. I haven’t read a book since I was about 14, 15. I got halfway through the third Harry Potter book. It was the first one that was really, really big. It was likes 600 pages. I stopped around 200. I haven’t read a book since then.
Q. Back to the Davis Cup situation. A lot of words have been written and spoken whether the top guys really rate Davis Cup. Nobody is more patriotic for their country than you in the top four. How hard was it for you to turn your back on the Davis Cup this year?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, it was. But sometimes you have to make certain priorities depending on the season that you plan. I won with my teammates the Davis Cup title in 2010. That gave all of us wings, strong confidence boost that we used in the period to come after that.
But we also all rate that title as probably the best experience that you can have because it’s a team competition. Team spirit is something we don’t get to experience that often, having a national captain on your bench supporting you, having all your colleagues from the national team supporting you whether you lose or not behind the court all the time.
It’s a very special feeling and I love playing Davis Cup. It’s just that the scheduling of the Davis Cup is not so convenient for players, especially the top ones who play a lot of matches.
Q. What did you do this year when Serbia played in Davis Cup? Were you there? Did you watch it on TV, ignore it altogether?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: No, I never ignore it, especially when my teammates and friends are playing. I try to look at it on the TV whenever I can, follow it live always.
This year we had the Davis Cup tie right after the Australian Open. It was very grueling for me physically, so I couldn’t be there. Then after Miami again there was a long couple weeks for me, a long tournament there. Unfortunately, I had to miss that. We didn’t make it through the semifinals.
But look, you know, every year is a chance for us to try to get all the way.
Li Na Questions
Q. You are the national hero or icon for your own nation. So is Li Na for China. It feels like more of a burden for Li Na. Can you share some thoughts on that?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Sure, I can give you one fact why that is the case: I come from a country that has seven and a half million, and Li Na comes from a country that has 1.6 billion. So there is not that much difference there (laughter).
No, it’s always individual. Everybody feels different. You can’t generalize things, especially because we are coming from different countries obviously.
But Li Na is a Grand Slam winner, she’s top 10 player for a while. That already is a great achievement for her country. So we are about to see if she can maintain that. You can’t predict anything because tennis is such a unique sport, very individual, demands a lot of commitment.
Q. You said the other day you felt relieved after your won your first Grand Slam title. After Li Na won her first Grand Slam title, I think there’s more pressure for her and she wasn’t happy about it. It was more like a burden. Share some thoughts on that. Maybe a difference between men and women or something else.
ANDY MURRAY: Yeah, I don’t know. There’s a lot of things that go into it. I think for me, I would say from quite a young age there was quite a lot of pressure on me. I also put a lot of pressure on myself. I think since I was young, I’ve had to deal with that pressure. Winning a Grand Slam in our country was obviously a big thing. Now that I’ve done it, I feel more relaxed.
I think with Li Na it happened maybe later in her career, and maybe earlier in her career there wasn’t as much expectation. When she did win one, maybe that expectation grew, and she was meant to do, or people were hoping for her to do more.
It’s obviously not easy. I know how hard it is to win a Grand Slam. I’m sure she does, as well. I’m not putting any extra pressure or expectation on myself for next year to win one. But I’ll work as hard as I can to do that.
Q. You are 31 years old, same age as Li Na. She was always pissed off when she was asked about retirement. You’ve been asked about that a lot. Have you ever been tired of such thing?
ROGER FEDERER: Diplomatically or the truth (smiling)?
You can only repeat yourself that many times. If people don’t want to accept it, don’t want to hear it anymore, it’s not your probably eventually.
Look, it’s a normal way of how the tour works. Eventually you hit 30 and people think, okay, that must be it normally. Actually I guess at times it could have a mental effect on some players. Unfortunately I think some players might have been pushed out of the game because of it.
Then again, once you’ve been top five or No. 1 in the world, you don’t want to be low ranked, playing on the small courts eventually.
It all depends on really what you’re happy with. Sometimes you’re just happy playing. Some people, some media unfortunately don’t understand that it’s okay just to play tennis and enjoy it. They always think you have to win everything, it always needs to be a success story, and if it’s not obviously what is the point. Maybe you have to go back and think, Why have I started playing tennis? Because I just like it. It’s actually sort of a dream hobby that became somewhat of a job. Some people just don’t get that ever.
So for us, the players, it’s logical that we love doing what we’re doing and you want to do it as long as you can. That’s why for me it’s been somewhat simple answering the questions hundreds of times. I think also eventually it’s going to stop a little bit and then it’s okay.
I think I’ve managed it fine. It’s true that it sometimes does take a little bit of a toll if you come into each press conference and have to repeat yourself unfortunately.
Murray Loving press now
Q. You mentioned a difference after you won the US Open. For example, you were more relaxed going to practice. Have you been enjoying doing the press more and more?
ANDY MURRAY: Doing the press? Yeah, much more. I’m loving it now. I’m really, really enjoying it (laughter).
Q. Going into the press more relaxed than before?
ANDY MURRAY: I think it’s just nicer for me, you know, because I get asked now different questions about things. It’s more about the future I’m talking about a lot of the times. Before, I was answering a lot of questions that happened in the past. I guess that’s nice and a little bit different.
Q. Outside of the Grand Slams, are you a fan of the combined events? Do you think there’s too many?
ANDY MURRAY: Yeah, I mean, to be honest it kind of depends a bit on the facilities. If the facilities are big enough. Sometimes it can be tough in terms of practicing and whatnot. If the facilities are good enough, then it’s fine. If they’re not, it can be quite tough to prepare for matches properly and whatnot.
So so long as the facilities are good enough.
Exchange of the day
Q. You played long matches and tiebreaks. Did you notice that?
JOHN ISNER: Yeah, I noticed that.
JOHN ISNER: I just do.
Stepanek Not done yet
Q. I’m sure you’ve been asked this question many times before. At 33, going strong, what more do you think you can contribute to the sport, what can you give to the younger generation?
RADEK STEPANEK: I hope I will give them trouble so far I’m going to be on the court. Yeah, so far I’m focused on my things, on my tennis. Once I’ll be done, then I can pass the message to the others.
But until I’m going to be actively playing, because I’m playing on the highest level. I want to keep doing that as long as I can, as long as I know that I can be a trouble for the guys playing on the highest level.
If I will feel that my body doesn’t have it anymore or my mind is too tired, then I just quit. I’m not going to be the one pushing it just because of playing. I have to have the fire. I have to have the fun.
I live for tennis 24/7, like I think everybody else does. Without it, it’s impossible to be on such a level. I’m very pleased that it’s going this way.