Wimbledon: When crowd chants Roger Federer, I hear Novak, says Djokovic
Wimbledon champ Novak Djokovic on his mental conditioning while countering a full house that's supporting Federer
London: Novak Djokovic, 32, has vowed to convince fans that he is not public enemy number one even if he surpasses people's champion Roger Federer as the greatest Grand Slam title winner of all time.
The World No. 1 saved two match points to clinch a fifth Wimbledon title and 16th major on Sunday, shattering Federer's bid to become the oldest Grand Slam champion. Despite being outplayed by Federer, 37, for large parts of the knife-edge encounter, the top seed emerged victorious 7-6 (7-5), 1-6, 7-6 (7-4), 4-6, 13-12 (7-3). At 4 hours and 57 minutes, it was the longest Wimbledon final and settled by a final set tiebreak for the first time.
Djokovic is the first man in 71 years to win the title from match points down and is now just two behind Rafael Nadal and four off the all-time Slam record of 20 titles held by Federer. He has time on his side, being a year younger than Nadal and more than five years younger than the legendary Swiss. After the epic triumph, Djokovic revealed he was able to turn the overwhelmingly pro-Federer, 14,000-strong Centre Court crowd in his favour by training his mind.
"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," said Djokovic, who has spent the best part of his career in pursuit of Nadal and Federer and attempting to seduce fans sceptical of his character. "It's hard to not 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, I guess."
Djokovic insists he won't get distracted by the pursuit of Federer's record haul, fully aware that he has time on his side. "Whether I'm going to be able to do it or not, I don't know. I'm not really looking at age as a restriction. What I said on the court, I really meant it. Roger really inspires me with his effort at his age. It just depends how long I'm going to play."
When asked if he sees himself still playing at 37, Djokovic said the motivation to be treated with the same respect is strong. Eventually, hearing screams of 'Let's go, Novak, let's go' will be more than welcome. "Hopefully in five years' time I can be hearing the same chants."
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