Originally written on Tennis Panorama  |  Last updated 11/19/14

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 27: Novak Djokovic of Serbia plays a backhand in his quarterfinal match against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France during day ten of the 2010 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 27, 2010 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

Novak Djokovic is happy to be at the Sony Ericsson Open as Miami was the first “big” event he won, so it’s very special to him. It’s a city that offers so much to do besides tennis that it makes it a fun place to be. He is staying at the Ritz Carlton Key Biscayne, which he likes because of the proximity to the event. The courts are nearby,” Djokovic said.  “You don’t need to be stuck in the traffic.  You don’t need to worry about that.

“Yeah, it’s very nice.  It’s beautiful, you know.  You can bike around; you can walk around; it’s very quiet and very private.

“Also the property is located on the beach, which he likes, and people can bike ride around, so it makes it all very pleasant.”

Djokovic is looking forward to the Olympics and considers mixed doubles one more chance to get a medal.

He feels that over the years has had good tennis, and this new generation of players are very supportive of each other, emotionally and of each other’s careers and achievements.

“It has been a few amazing years for Serbian tennis, “Djokovic said.  “You know, we didn’t have such a great tradition in this sport in our country.  We are still, I have to say, a nation of team sports.  We had lots of success and long history in basketball and volleyball, water polo, handball, these kind of sports.

“This is the first time that some individual sport stands out and delivers some world‑class tennis players, and it’s great, you know.  I grew up with all the tennis players that are coming from Serbia, especially with my Davis Cup colleagues.  We know each other really well, and we do get to share a lot of success and experiences, ups and downs, highs and lows, and try to help each other in every possible way with advices.

“We are always seeking to improve and get better.  I believe that our past that we had in our country, which was very turbulent, I have to say, helped us to, you know, discover that great desire for the success and, you know, to become one of the world’s best tennis players.

“This mentality, very, very strong mentality, is actually something that separates, I think, people from that region from any other.”

His fellow Serbs are good friends off the court as well. He feels that Serbia, having had such a turbulent past, is providing the world with top elite athletes in tennis, and more important first time to have athletes being successful in an individual sport.

http://youtu.be/lzEqc0A-twE

Andy Murray beat the heat and Alejandro Falla of Colombia 6-2, 6-3 in his first match at the Sony Ericsson Open.

I mean, he’s a tough player, Murray said of Falla. “He’s had some good wins, and he pushed Federer at Wimbledon very, very close.

“He beat Mardy(Fish), you know, at the Australian Open.  He’s a tough guy to play against, very different to how a lot of guys play nowadays.  He hits the ball ‑‑ you know, for the way a South America normally plays it’s pretty flat.

“He plays quite close to the baseline and doesn’t look like he’s doing that much with the ball.  But he changes direction of the ball pretty well, too.

“I was expecting it to be tricky, and started off that way and managed to play better.”

Falla felt that the humidity and heat took a toll on him. He did feel tired out there, the points were long, and he wished he had been more aggressive. However he understood that he lost to a player who is one of the best players at the moment and playing his best tennis. Murray mentioned that getting the break in the second set was very important as he continued putting pressure on Falla’s serve to get the breaks.  Murray also felt he served well, and coming to the match he was prepared to play Falla, who can be a tough opponent with his South American style of play.

Falla is looking forward to playing Davis Cup in Brazil next month, ogether with fellow countryman, Santiago Girardo.  Falla feels Brazilians are the favorite to win, but he is looking forward to playing for his country not only in Brazil, next month, but in London in July in the Olympics.

With his win on Friday Murray avoided a repeat of last year’s opening round loss in Miami. Murray fell in his first match in the recent BNP Paribas Open. Last year Murray lost in the opening rounds of both Indian Wells and Miami.

Lucia Hoffman is covering the Sony Ericsson Open for Tennis Panorama.

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