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January 22, 2015

Novak Djokovic


N. DJOKOVIC/A. Kuznetsov
6-0, 6-1, 6-4
An interview with:

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. A lot of top players seem to be suffering from heat, injuries. You seem very comfortable. What's the secret for you?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Practice (smiling).

Q. Can you practice?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I'm not only talking about practice on the tennis court, but practice the professionalism off the court. But injuries are part of the sport. That's something that sometimes happens even if you're trying to take care of every single aspect of your career and yourself, trying to have the discipline, holistic approach to everything. Professional tennis nowadays is very demanding in terms of commitment on and off the court. But, as I said, injuries happen. Especially for the tennis players, which are individual athletes, which have a lot of challenges they have to face for their bodies and their minds, traveling, changing time zones, surfaces, conditions of play. It takes a toll on your body, definitely.

Q. Were you surprised to see Rafa in such a physical state of distress last night?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I watched a little bit of the last few games of the fifth set only. I haven't seen the whole match. He knows to answer the best how he feels on the court. I don't know. From what I have seen, he was out there fighting, you know, deserved to win because he fighted his way through. Now it happens that you have opposite the net an opponent that plays as well as Smyczek played, has nothing to lose. I don't know about his health issues or physical state. Definitely was not expected to see him playing four and a half hours against Smyczek. People expect him and top players to dominate most of the matches that they play on, especially in the opening rounds of a Grand Slam. This is tennis. This is sport. People need to realize that other players are playing as well as the top players do. In the Grand Slams, you have motivation more. If you have a fight like they had last night, you just have to congratulate the better player. I'm sure Rafa spoke nicely and praised his opponent. I've seen actually the great gentleman gesture and sportsmanship from Smyczek in the last game. I think that's something that people should talk about. This is something that is not very common in the sport today, you know, where media and people generally emphasize on the rivalries, feisty, aggressive kind of approach to matches. It's nice to have something that is greater than sport itself, you know, the sportsmanship and fair play.

Q. Kuznetsov said he's going to get a tape of today's game and watch it to see where he has to go as a player. How well do you feel you played in the first two sets?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: First two sets definitely have been great. Overall I executed the game plan. Everything I intended to do, almost 100%, from every second in my game, serve, baseline play, aggressive shots and aggressive returns. He dropped his first-serve percentage a lot in the second set and obviously allowed me to have a lot of looks at the second serves. That, as well, gave me an opportunity to step in and just swing through the ball.

Q. Viktor was talking about how much you helped him. How happy are you that he is at the stage he is at?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I think it's fair to say that he did a fantastic job reaching top 50 of the world, and he can go even further, with playing only six months, maybe even less, after more than a year of absence from the tour. As his great friend, I'm very proud of him. I'm very happy to see him win, to see him feel good on the court. We talk a lot, of course. He won now 10 matches in a row. He's going to play now a top-10 player. Tomas, he doesn't have a great record against him. Again, I think Viktor is a different player than what he was two years ago. This experience that he had in some way helped him to get stronger and change his approach maybe to the court and allows him to do things that he didn't have a chance to do before. Sometimes a few months' rest from tennis, from sport, from kind of a lifestyle that you're basically following on a daily basis for many, many years sometimes is useful to kind of refresh, regroup, and get a different kind of philosophy and approach. So I wish him all the best. I think if he's playing as well as he did in last two weeks, he has a fair chance.

Q. You've had the question before, but your coach is Becker. His biggest rival in his playing days was Edberg. Yet you name your son Stefan. What do you have to say about it?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I have nothing to say about it. I didn't name my son by Stefan Edberg, if you refer to that. Well, generally it's good to see the legends of our sport being in an active tennis right now as a coaches, you know, having this role. Stefan with Roger, Boris with me, Cilic has Goran, Michael Chang with Kei Nishikori, Magnus Norman with Stan Wawrinka. It's good for sport. They get a lot of attention, fairly so, because they have incredibly successful careers and did a lot for this sport on and off the court. I'm glad we have them again back on the tour.

Q. Last night I watched your Jacob's Creek commercial. Is it the best commercial so far from you?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: It's definitely one of the best that I've done so far in my career because it's different in a way. We did three short films that allow people to see a different side of me. Yes, I've said many times about my childhood, growing up, so forth, how it was in these circumstances of war and so forth. But to put it on the screen, make it alive in a way, was very nice. Was very emotional for me to go through that, to create such story with people from Jacob's Creek. I'm very proud of what they've done. Hopefully the people can enjoy the films, as well.

Q. Since 2007 you've only lost a total of two sets in your first and second round matches here. You're playing lesser-ranked opponents in these matches. What is it that you find so comfortable in this tournament in the early stages?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, generally this is my most successful Grand Slam and the tournament where over the years I've performed my best tennis. Reason? I think there is not one reason. A few reasons together. Probably the fact that I enjoy the conditions of play. Even though last two years the courts have played faster, significantly faster than they were before, still I do enjoy being here in Australia. Some nice, positive, easygoing, sport-oriented energy going around. People appreciate the sport and make you feel good. Of course, it's the beginning of the year. It's the first big tournament. Everybody comes fresh and motivated. I guess in this kind of package it's a combination of things that make me feel comfortable on the court here.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports
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