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May 26, 2015

Novak Djokovic


N. DJOKOVIC/J. Nieminen
6-2, 7-5, 6-2

THE MODERATOR: Questions in English.

Q. It could have been a tricky first round. I guess you're pretty happy with the test you had today.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: It was a test, it was a challenge for me to come back to the court again after first match after Rome finals. And obviously it's been a year since I played on Philippe Chatrier, and nice memories. Of course, I was aware of the quality and experience of my opponent today, who has shown, and especially in the second set, why he's been around the tour and a successful, consistent player for so many years. He can play. He can swing through the ball and being very aggressive. And he was the better player for most of the second set. And then, you know, managed to come back and play some good shots, stayed patient, stayed calm. And overall it was a very solid performance.

Q. In 2006 after your quarterfinal encounter against Nadal you said you know how to defeat Nadal. He's not unbeatable on clay. You have managed to do that on the surface in other tournaments, but in Roland Garros you haven't managed to do that in the last nine years. So what makes Nadal so different in this tournament and why he seems so difficult to defeat?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I think the conditions of play suit him very much, you know, in this tournament and over the years. I mean, his record says enough about the quality of the tennis that he plays here. Only once he has lost in his entire career. It's without a doubt his most successful tournament. He loves playing on clay, especially here in Paris. Best of five, as well, something that is playing in his favor, because there are not many players who can compete physically with him. To accept the fact that you're going to have to play a lot of long rallies, you're going to have to win the points, he's not going to give you, he's one of the best defenders ever to play the game. So he plays with a lot of heavy topspin. You spend a lot of energy to win one set and you have to win three. I think that's one of the reasons he's so successful here.

Q. Andy Murray told us yesterday the court on Philippe Chatrier is very slow. What is your opinion if you compare it to Lenglen and the other courts?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I haven't played on Lenglen this year yet, but judging from the last years, we always knew that Lenglen is slightly faster than Chatrier. The court right now is in good condition. It's a bit slippery, probably because of a little bit of a heavier conditions these days. Because of the weather it seems that there is a bit more clay and it's wet, and that's why the overall feel and impression for the court that it's a bit slower than usual.

Q. I know we are in Roland Garros, but yesterday Monaco says that you have already booked a hotel to play Davis Cup in Argentina in July. Is that true or...
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: No. No. I haven't booked a hotel (smiling). Federation is booking a hotel. I'm still not able to give you an answer on that. I still don't know.

Q. What's your expectation for Roland Garros this year? Because if you get to the championship in the French Open this year, you will become the eighth player who has won a Grand Slam. It is the 11th time you participate in the French Open. We know that in the 11 participations Federer and Agassi have got their first championship in the French Open.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Okay. I hope this is my lucky 11th year (smiling).

Q. What are the best conditions for you in Roland Garros? What do you prefer as weather? Windy?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I don't think anybody likes windy conditions, but -- well, whatever the conditions in the end of the day, I have to adjust to them. I think it's hard for me to see it here, sit down and talk about most preferred conditions, because it's more or less the same, of course, depending on the time of the day when you're playing and if it's sunny or not, that influences the speed of the play. Depending again against which opponent I'm playing against that day. If I want quicker conditions or slower, it all depends, you know. It's hard to say.

Q. I'm not sure if you're aware of the breaking news from the New York Times about Guillermo Vilas and the No. 1 position being denied by the ATP. As reigning world No. 1, what are your thoughts on that matter?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I just heard it five minutes ago. I was not aware of that at all. I don't have too much of information so I can really be giving clear statements on that matter. Obviously I have lots of respect for Guillermo Vilas and what he has achieved, and the legacy he has left for our sport, especially here in Roland Garros and clay courts, specialist for this surface. Yeah, it's hard to say. Right now I don't know what his motivation is really to recalculate everything, but it's hard to change things that happened over 45 years ago. If you do that, then it can affect the seedings and so forth and many different things that would follow this, I'd say, decision, change of decision, if we would get to that point, as much as I can understand the whole situation, because it's a little bit complicated. Well, hopefully he won't be too disappointed about it. I think with the rankings or not, he's still, he's still one of the best players of his time, and I think that's enough.

Q. Obviously players deal with the same umpires over and over again. You know them really well. Have you ever, in your entire career, felt the need or happen to ask for a certain umpire not to umpire your matches?

Q. Is it common practice or is it normal for that to happen?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: No, no, no. Honestly, I never thought of that. Chair umpires are humans, as well. We all make mistakes. Maybe periods of the year when a chair umpire is more or less confident to make certain calls and decisions, and of course, they need to be strongly participating in the match, as well. They need focus and attention, especially the surfaces where you don't have marks like clay and have to make certain calls with, of course, a time limit that is now a new rule, puts a lot of pressure on them. So I understand it. Of course, you go through tense moments, emotions on the court, as a player and as a chair umpire. You make mistakes. There are some chair umpires in some matches that I remember that I wasn't very happy with how they did their job, but I never thought of requesting a chair umpire not to ever or whatever, for a certain time, be a chair umpire in my matches. I don't think that's fair. I don't think that's fair to them. You know, they do their job as best as they can. Of course, sometimes they do it better or worse.

Q. A French magazine, a cover story with this question: What would be tennis after the Federer/Nadal era? My question is: What's your personal answer, because you're No. 1 in the world? How do you react on the site it's not called yet the Federer/Djokovic era whereas it could be?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, again, how can I say this? I think I have, of course, tremendous respect and appreciation as well for what these two guys have achieved and what they represent to our sport, not just with their on-court results and achievements, but also off the court they really carry themselves with a great responsibility and awareness about who they are and, you know, they have brought this sport to another level, you know, in many ways. So to be with them in that era, it is a privilege for me in a way. Because of them, I have grown as a player and as a person, and partly I am today what I am also because of them. They contribute to that, to what I have become. That's all I can say. Now, if people want to call it Federer/Nadal or they want to put me in that mix and call it the era of the three players, it's completely relative and very subjective. Everybody has freedom of choice and, you know, especially in the journalism to do whatever they want. So I can't question that.

Q. Can you talk about your relationship with the French crowd? Is it important for you to be loved here in Paris?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Of course it's important, especially if I am on the quest to win this tournament. It is more than necessary to have, very welcome to have the crowd support, so I hope I can have them on my side during this tournament. But as I mentioned today on the court, there is some moments in my career on the court that are really memorable and I don't forget and I really appreciate the energy and effort and the respect that I get from the crowd. And one of the nicest moments I have experienced was here last year in the closing ceremony against Nadal when I lost and I received a very emotional applause in which, in my eyes, sounded like we respect your effort and, you know, we want you to come back next year and keep trying, keep trying to win the tournament. So that's something that, you know, it touched me. It really felt nice. Of course I'm very excited to be part of this tournament and to go again to Philippe Chatrier or Suzanne Lenglen and perform in front of them.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports
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