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Captain Djokovic Gives His Verdict

Miami, USA

Novak Djokovic© Getty ImagesNovak Djokovic was the lone defender for the ATP World Tour AllStars.

According to team captain Novak Djokovic, there’s a strong possibility that the ATP World Tour AllStars would not have leaked four goals against the Fort Lauderdale Strikers in Wednesday evening’s football Hope Match for Japan had anyone been willing to defend.

With little time to prepare for the match, hasty tactics were discussed among the players pre-match with one problem fast becoming apparent. Everyone wanted to play upfront.

Speaking to the press on Thursday, Djokovic recounted, “[Marcos] Baghdatis took a pen and paper, and he says, ‘Let's organise. Let's up put up a team and see who can be in what position.’ We gathered around 10 or 15 players, and every single one of them wanted to be on attack. So that was a big issue before the match, how to put up a team of players who can play some defence.

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“[So] I said ‘I will be in the defence. I will be left defence.’ The goalie was the French fitness coach. He was okay. He didn't have any defence, so he got a lot of shots on the goal. [Andy] Murray and Baghdatis were in the attack, and they didn't accept anything else except attack. So I said, ‘Okay, you can go ahead.’ And they played well. Our midfield was terrible. We need to work on that.”

Baghdatis was singled out as Man of the Match by Captain Djokovic, with Murray a close second. Both scored in the ATP World Tour AllStars’ 4-2 defeat.

Djokovic was delighted with the success of the event, arranged at such short notice to raise money for the earthquake and tsunami victims in Japan, and said he would be keen to organise another match in the future when players such as Roger Federer, who were detained by other commitments, could participate. As long, of course, as someone was willing to play in defence with him.

“It was incredible,” said Djokovic. “We came up with that idea last week in Indian Wells, and I have to thank and congratulate the team of people that organised this event and the dinner last night. In such a short period of time, they managed to organise something that is world class.

“The football event was just fantastic. All the players who were there told me that they felt great, that of course they felt big support and big compassion to the charity and to what's going on in Japan. Of course they all showed their great heart. And, as well, they enjoyed playing football.

“It's interesting for us,” the Serb continued. “It's something else. It's a subject that kind of makes us happy to talk about and gives us ideas for the upcoming couple of months to organise another game somewhere in Europe, maybe with some big team. But we'll have to work, definitely. We'll have to practise. We'll have to see who is going to be a defender. Otherwise I will be alone!”

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