Djokovic: 'Sometimes You Just Want To Cocoon Yourself'
“I’m trying to enjoy the moments on the court, but there is so much stress and pressure going on that it's hard to have fun, so to say, on the court. It's really about finding a way to navigate through the match and win a tennis match for me,” Djokovic said. “But off the court, in terms of the actual journey of still being a professional tennis player and going around the world, travelling with my coaching team, we try to keep things light off the court and have fun and enjoy life, because in the end of the day, you have to find that optimal balance.”
The 36-year-old is doing just fine in the winning department. The Serbian is chasing a record-extending 24th major title and by defeating Taylor Fritz in the last eight advanced to a record-breaking 47th Grand Slam semi-final.
“Today it was a great test, to see how it feels being on the court, quarter-finals against a top American. Taylor has been playing some great tennis this tournament, I thought,” Djokovic said. “But I was very determined. I had clarity on what I needed to be doing on the court. Of course, in the heat of a moment, sometimes you want to use that energy to lift yourself up, and sometimes you just want to kind of cocoon yourself and really isolate the noise and focus on breathing and focus on staying present and focussing on the next point.
“So it's really adapting to whatever circumstances have for you and whatever is required in that moment for you.”
Djokovic explained that sometimes he prefers to “not really pay attention” to what might be happening in the crowd. On other occasions, he likes to feed off fans’ energy.
“I didn't really want him to win the third set, because then I guess the crowd would really get into it even more and it would become more difficult task for me to handle,” Djokovic said of Fritz's third-set comeback. “It’s normal, it's logical to expect that most of the crowd would support the home player.”
The three-time US Open champion had not played an American in the quarter-finals of the tournament since he beat Andy Roddick in 2008. He has never faced a home favourite at Flushing Meadows in the semi-finals or later. That will change Friday when he tries to eliminate the winner of Ben Shelton and Frances Tiafoe.
“It’s going to be an American player, for sure. I have to be ready for a great battle," Djokovic said. "Both of the guys that I'm going to face eventually on Friday, Shelton and Tiafoe, have a lot of charisma. They bring a lot of energy on the court. They are very quick, very powerful.
“Ben Shelton has been serving some bombs this tournament. When his serve is on, he's a very difficult player to play against, especially because he's lefty, as well. Then you have Big Foe, who is one of the favourite guys in the locker room, fun to be around, always smiling, always bringing good vibes, and fantastic player.”
Djokovic looks forward to watching the match and preparing to take on the winner.
“I have a couple days off, no match. It actually serves well for my body at this stage of the tournament,” Djokovic said. “I’ll be ready for Friday whoever is across the net.”