London | Djokovic knows what to do
Novak Djokovic accepts he will have to defeat the crowd as well as Roger Federer to reach the semi-finals of the Nitto ATP Finals at the 02.
I like to transmutate it in a way: When the crowd is chanting ‘Roger,' I hear ‘Novak’ Novak Djokovc
Djokovic overcame Federer after saving two match points to overcome his popular Swiss opponent in the Wimbledon final with the majority of supporters firmly favouring the player rated the greatest play-of all time.
But the Serb is ready to stay on course to overtake Rafa Nadal as world No.1 at the end-of-season jamboree and upset the majority of those present in the winner-takes-all round-robin decider under the dome.
The 32-year-old said: “I understand why there is so much support for Roger. He is who he is. What he has achieved and the personality that he is, he deserves that.
“Sometimes the crowd is on your side and sometimes they’re against you. It’s something throughout my career I had to learn how to handle, how to accept and how to deal with.”
Djokovic leads their head to heads 26-22 and has won in three of five meetings, including the 2012 and 2015 finals.
The Serb described the All England epic as “the most demanding match I was ever a part of” but he added how a mental trick helped him deal with the pro-Federer support.
He said: “I like to transmutate it in a way: When the crowd is chanting ‘Roger,’ I hear ‘Novak’. It sounds silly, but it is like that. It’s hard not to be aware of the crowd. You have that kind of electric atmosphere, that kind of noise. Of course, if you have the majority of the crowd on your side, it helps. When you don’t, then you have to find it within.”
Djokovic aims to adopt the same approach in a clash which sees the loser go home.
He said: “It really works mentally in these kind of moments. There will not be anything particularly different in terms of my reaction if that happens. I’m going to accept it and respect it. I’m going to try to focus on what needs to be done for me tactically in order to win a tennis match. That’s all it is.
“Obviously, there are a lot of people and tennis fans that like to see us going head-to-head. Of course, I understand that,” Djokovic said. “Hopefully it’s going to be a packed house and everyone will enjoy their tennis.”
* Quotes via the ATP