Young Novak Djokovic after Rafael Nadal loss: ‘I belong in the top-3’

In the first three months of 2007, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal were still the players to beat, although they were about to get company at the top by the end of the year. Novak Djokovic finished the previous season in the top-20, slowly becoming the youngster to watch (Nadal was already well-established) and playing on an even higher level at the beginning of 2007 to find himself in the top-10. The Serb had won the title in Adelaide before reaching the fourth round at the Australian Open, losing to Roger Federer in straight sets. Federer toppled Djokovic in Dubai and left the doors wide open for his rivals after an early loss in Indian Wells to Guillermo Canas, his first since Cincinnati in August 2006! Novak Djokovic used the opportunity with both hands, defeating David Ferrer and Andy Murray in the quarters and semis to advance into the first Masters 1000 final without losing a set.

Novak Djokovic spoke about his goals after the 2007 Indian Wells.

A teenager had to beat world no. 2 Rafael Nadal as the last obstacle between him and the title, which proved to be a mission impossible for Novak on that day. Nadal delivered a 6-2, 7-5 triumph for the seventh Masters 1000 crown, never losing serve and securing three breaks to seal the deal in straight sets. The more experienced Spaniard made a great start, breaking Novak twice in the opener and dropping only 12 points to gather momentum. In set number two, Djokovic raised his level to stay in touch in the opening ten games, squandering his chances and falling short after Rafa’s late break. Novak was happy with his overall performance in Indian Wells, saying he belongs in the top-5 or top-3 at that moment.¬†

“Reaching the top-10 now, the plan for the rest of the season is to continue forward and embrace new challenges. I have proven to everyone that I’m capable of playing against the world’s best players. Still, I want to improve many things, and I would love to remain in the top-10 by the end of the year and compete at the Master Cup in Shanghai. To reach Nadal’s level, I have to practice a lot, just like other players. It has changed a lot in the last 15 or 20 years; you can’t compare tennis from the past to what we have today, as everything evolves fast. The players have to work more and endure longer rallies, often in the heat. I’m not the guy who will rely purely on his talent; I want to improve, and I know I have to work. I have a plan to raise certain elements of my game in the future. I believe I belong in the top-5 or even top-3 at the moment, but I don’t think about that too much, trying to stay focused and wait for the results to come,” Novak Djokovic said.

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