Instead of great battle between two players who probably showed the most in 2016, we got the most one-sided final in the history of Indian Wells after yet another masterclass performance from Novak Djokovic. World number 1 wasted no time on the court, beating Milos Raonic 6-2 6-0 in just 77 minutes, lifting his record 5th Indian Wells crown! Novak broke his rival in the very first game and never looked back, dominating with deep precise groundstrokes and backed by rock solid returns (Raonic was 3 from 30 on the second serve). Milos was clearly not at his best but even he is not certain what exactly have happened, but he didn’t want to hide behind that, saying that Novak was much better than him and that he deserved to win. The Serb on the other hand stayed much longer in his press conference, talking about the match but also some other interesting issues. We are starting with Novak’s press:
“It has obviously been a great couple of weeks. To win this tournament five times is a fantastic achievement for my team and I. We don”t take anything for granted, especially because this tournament has been, for many, many players, a favourite tournament. You know, all the top players each year competing and trying to win it. It”s just behind Grand Slams in terms of organization, the quality of facilities, the conditions. Players are very welcomed. The spectators are sharing their passion and love for the sport with us, and in this kind of environment you are obviously inspired to play your best. No, it was never in doubt that I could make it to this tournament. I arrived a day and a half later than I was supposed to because I have had difficulty with health and physically I was exhausted after that eye infection I had and three days in a row playing Davis Cup. The last day was five hours. So, you know, that”s why I took a little bit of time before I actually came in Indian Wells. But once I was here I was starting to feel much better, and I ended out the tournament in the way that I wanted.”
Novak once again repeated that he would back up the making of new higher category, for the Indian Wells and Shanghai events: “Well, look, you know, I have a tremendous respect for the history of tennis and for Grand Slams. Especially we all know that Grand Slams are the most prominent tournaments we have, you know, in the history of our sport. That doesn’t take away the possibility to grow other events within the ATP world. So I think this tournament – and you mentioned Shanghai and maybe a couple others – are willing to step it up, you know, and willing to, you know, compete for the higher level and a new category of the tournaments. I don”t see a reason why we should not allow them to do that. It”s for the sake of players and sport. You know, everything is evolving in life, and our sport should, too.”
As was expected, he was asked about his opinion of what Raymond Moore have said, and he spent more than half of his press to explain his view on this sensitive topic: “I don”t know what to say. I heard about it. Obviously it”s a very delicate and sensitive subject to talk about. Women deserve respect and admiration for what they are doing. You know, equal prize money was the main subject of the tennis world in the last seven, eight years. I have been through that process, as well, so I understand how much power and energy WTA and all the advocates for equal prize money have invested in order to reach that. I applaud them for that. I honestly do. They fought for what they deserve, and they got it. On the other hand, I think that our men”s tennis world, ATP world, should fight for more, because the stats are showing that we have much more spectators on the men”s tennis matches. I think that”s one of the, you know, reasons why maybe we should get awarded more. But, again, you know, we can”t complain because we also have great prize money in men”s tennis is at the right moment in the right time. Look, I don”t know what Raymond Moore was exactly referring to when he was saying that, but this is all I can say from my perspective.
Listen, again, my answer to you is not yes and no. It”s women should fight for what they think they deserve and we should fight for what we think we deserve. I think as long as it”s like that and there is data and stats available and information, you know, upon who attracts more attention, spectators, who sells more tickets and stuff like that, in relation to that it has to be fairly distributed. As I said, I have tremendous respect for what women in global sport are doing and achieving. It”s knowing what they have to go through with their bodies, and their bodies are much different than men”s bodies. They have to go through a lot of different things that we don”t have to go through. You know, the hormones and different stuff, we don”t need to go into details. Ladies know what I”m talking about.
But it”s really for great admiration and respect for them to be able to fight on such a high level. Many of them, you know, they kind of have to sacrifice for certain periods of time, you know, the family time or decisions that they make with their own bodies, you know, in order to play the tennis and to play the professional sport. So I appreciate that. I have had a woman that was my coach, and that was a huge part of my tennis career. I”m surrounded with women. I”m very happy obviously to be married with one and to have a child. (Smiling.) I’m completely for women power.”
Question regarding Roland Garros was also inevitable, but Novak repeated there”s still a lot of tournaments left to be played before he headed to Paris: “Well, I’m planning to play many more tournaments before Roland Garros, first of all, in order to get myself ready and respect the schedule and the other tournaments. I think it’s important — if we want Indian Wells or the other ATP tournaments to become bigger and kind of close the gap with Grand Slams, we need to also respect the value of those tournaments and not talk only about Grand Slams, if you know what I mean. I’m not criticizing you, but I’m just talking in general. But Roland Garros has been and is this year again one of the top priorities of the season.
I have been — I felt like I have been coming closer and closer to the title in the last couple of years. I’m not going to change much in terms of preparation for the event. I think the schedule is going to be the same, except I’m still planning to play Madrid, which I didn’t the last two years. I think in order to get yourself in match-ready situation, you need to play matches on that surface before, at least two tournaments, strong tournaments. So that’s what I’m going to do. And again, I grew up on clay, I love playing on clay. I still haven’t won that Grand Slam played on clay courts, but I have gotten very close a couple of times, and I know that it doesn’t take too much more to win the trophy. So I’m going to keep on going and believing that maybe I can reach this year.”
“I’m not sure what happened, Milos started. I have to see the medical staff here and discuss with my own. I just hope it has nothing to do with the previous issue I had. It was on after few games, not from the beginning, and it feels similar to my previous problems, but not as bad. I don’t think I let it get as bad. I don’t know if it happened again. It could be frustrating; could not be. Maybe it’s just sort of a mental way of my body protecting. I have to do the right investigation. Just sort of see what it is and then I can judge it from there. I don”t think it affected my effort. I thought he played much better than I did. I struggled again, just like last time, to start the match well, and then he”s the best player in the world at this moment and a good step ahead of everybody.
He took the most advantage of that. There is a lot of positives to take away. Right now it’s very disappointing, but at the end of the day, until two weeks ago I didn’t do any side-to-side movement and I didn’t play any points and all these kind of things. To be here playing in one of the 12 most important tournaments in our year in the final is great progress forward. I look to sort of keep that going forward and, you know, trying to be healthy and trying to get better every day.”
Asked about what he needs to change against Novak in the matches to come, Milos had the simple answer: “I need to work harder. I need to execute better. My way that I go about things, I think I’m on the right track. I think it’s about putting the things, putting the things together, being effective, which today I wasn’t able to do. I think I have it within me, but obviously I need to reach a lot deeper to find that execution.”
Novak returned great in the final, managing to tone down Milos’s main weapon, especially on the second serve, and Canadian could only praised that Novak’s shot: “I don’t know. I mean, you expect it. You know what Novak can bring, and you know that he”s the best returner probably of all time. Not only is he good when the ball is close to him, he”s even very good when it’s far away from him, making you play and neutralizing the point very well in that situation. So it’s not weird, by any means. I think it’s just — you know, I wish I could have been better in that situation.”