Playing Janko is ‘never easy’, says Novak
Originally published on: 13/08/12 00:00
Djokovic beat his fellow Serb in the semi-finals in Canada last week en route to the title and is seeded to meet him again later this week in the quarter-finals in Cincinnati.
“It's never easy, but we are professionals,” Djokovic said. “We try to win the match whoever is across the net. We know each other really well. We met for the first time probably 12 or 15 years ago back in Serbia. He was the best junior in the world and one of the players I was looking up to. I'm very glad that he managed to get into the world’s top 10. He's playing probably the best tennis of his life in last 15 months.”
Djokovic added: “Regardless of what happens on the court, whoever wins the match, we stay friends. We know each other so well. He's definitely one of my best friends off the court. I spend a lot of time with him and with the rest of the Davis Cup team.”
The world No.2 has won five of his seven meetings at senior level with Tipsarevic, the world No.8, but has lost two of the last four. Tipsarevic beat his fellow countryman for the first time in the round-robin section of last year’s Barclays ATP World Tour Finals in London and again in the quarter-finals of this year’s Masters 1000 tournament in Madrid, where Djokovic was clearly unhappy with the blue clay courts. Tipsarevic did not win a set in their two other meetings, in the Dubai quarter-finals and last week’s semi-finals in Toronto.
Compared with Djokovic, 28-year-old Tipsarevic is a late developer, having climbed into the world’s top 10 for the first time at the end of last year. What does Djokovic see as his friend’s strengths? “He's very aggressive,” the Australian Open champion said. “He started believing in himself, in his ability on the court, and that's why he became a top_ѥ10 player. He always had qualities to be out there, but for a couple of years he was struggling to find that mental strength on the court. With a couple of big scalps in the last 15 months and some big wins, he managed to get there.”