20 Questions: Novak Djokovic

Published by Barry Wood

Novak Djokovic was on fire at the start of 2016. Photo: Getty Images
What’s the one thing Novak Djokovic likes most about himself? He answers 20 big questions.

Twelve Grand Slam titles and long stints as world No.1 are among Novak Djokovic’s many records – but he’d rather be remembered as a quality person than a history-making champion.

What is the greatest benefit of being famous?
The appreciation and respect that you get.

What qualities do you most like in other people?
Honesty. Generosity. Kindness.

What annoys or frustrates you the most?
Dishonesty. Pessimistic approach to life.

What do you most like in yourself?
I don’t usually like answering about myself. That’s for other people but, if you really insist, I’m an optimist. Not just for tennis but for everything in life. I see hope and I see a light when maybe others don’t.

What do you dislike in yourself?
Being late. I need to work on that. And maybe sometimes not being realistic about things that I can and cannot do in life.

What has been your best moment on a tennis court?
Three moments I would say were the highlights of my career. Davis Cup win (over France) 2010, Wimbledon 2011 and 14, and Australian Open 2012 final against (Rafael) Nadal, the longest Grand Slam final.

What has been your worst moment on a tennis court?
There were those as well but I would rather remember the good ones. I had some tough moments. Probably one that comes up to my mind is the quarter final loss against (Jurgen) Melzer in the 2010 French Open, and after that loss it was the first time in my career I had such a strong doubt and fear of continuing to play tennis. That was one of the turning points of my career.

Knowing what you know now, what advice would you have given yourself when your career started?
Be patient. Patience is a virtue today and not many people have it. Genuine positive mindset towards tennis and everything in life.

What is the best advice you have ever been given?
Treat others the way you want them to treat you.

Describe your perfect day?
Well, I need to mention tennis somewhere. I really do love playing tennis, so I would have an hour of tennis. I would have an hour of golf. I would have some theatre and the whole afternoon with my family.

Do you have any superstitions?
No.

What has been your most extravagant (most expensive or biggest) purchase?
Wow! My most extravagant purchase would be probably a car. I’m not that extravagant. I didn’t buy a house yet. Soon, soon.

What living person do you most admire?
There are a few. Richard Branson is one. I admire very much one priest from a Serbian Orthodox church that I’ve met in a holy island in Greece.

What is your greatest fear?
I don’t think about fears. Even though I have them I don’t think about them in that way.

What is your most treasured possession?
My baby Stefan.

If you weren’t a tennis player what would you like to be?
It would probably be in sport. I don’t know if I would play it professionally, but … I would probably be involved also in the nature because I love nature. I grew up in the mountains and spent a lot of time outdoors. But I’m not sure which direction my life would take me because I don’t spend much time thinking about what if, what if. I believe in life everything happens for a reason, and for a reason I’m a tennis player.

Where is the best place you’ve been?
My country is my favourite place, obviously Belgrade and Kopaonik, the mountain where I grew up, but there are some beautiful sites in the world that I have visited. The one I would pick is Perito Moreno, the iceberg (glacier) in the south of Patagonia, south of Argentina. It’s one of the most impressive sights I’ve seen in the nature.

Where would you most like to go that you haven’t been to yet?
Himalayas. Tibet, Nepal. I’d love to go there. Africa. South Africa especially but the entire Africa I would like to see. A little bit more of South America, Machu Picchu, this ancient spiritual site.

Who would you most like to have as a dinner guest (can be alive or deceased)?
Nikola Tesla. He is one of the biggest scientists and persons that ever lived, so he’s my guiding star. I would definitely love to have dinner with him.

How would you like to be remembered?
I would like to be remembered as a good person, as somebody that used the success and the achievement in his own field of life as a tool for helping others.

Barry Wood has reported on the game for over 35 years, attending his first Australian Open at Kooyong before going on to interview almost every top player as well as many others for numerous publications.

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