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June 28, 2015

Novak Djokovic


THE MODERATOR:  Good morning, ladies and gentlemen.  It gives me very great pleasure to introduce the reigning men's Wimbledon champion, Novak Djokovic.
Questions, please.

Q.  You've been at Boodles, I think that's your routine.  How do you feel in terms of your preparation?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Well, it's not the first time that I haven't been taken part in a lead‑up tournament to Wimbledon.  I'm trying to take the best out of these days before the Wimbledon starts, trying to get myself on the court as much as I can.
I played a couple of matches in Boodles.  Obviously it's a different feeling when you're playing a practice match in a practice session, and we were playing an exhibition match when you actually have a chair umpire who's calling the score.  So all these factors influence your kind of mindset on the court and it helps you get into the competitive mode.
So I'm happy with the way I've practiced.  Obviously I'm very excited to be part of the biggest, most important tournament in the world again.  And to play the first match on the Centre Court, it's a privilege and an honor.

Q.  Is it difficult to play the buildup tournaments?  Have you considered playing Queen's or Halle?  What was the decision not to do that?  And recovering from Roland Garros, had to be mentally tough, of course, after losing the final there.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Yes, it was.  Not just Roland Garros, but all the five months of the year have been really intense for me.  I played a big amount of matches.  Before Roland Garros, I've lost only two.  I had one of the best season starts in my career.  Of course, Roland Garros finals wasn't easy.
All in all, it was another great tournament.  But I needed some time to just mentally recover, rest ‑ more than physical rest, I needed that emotional, mental rest to recharge my batteries and get myself in a proper state of mind so I can start all over again.

Q.  Knowing firsthand what it's like to pursue and win majors and to have some heartbreaks, what is your perspective on what Serena has already done this year and what she's trying to do?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Well, she keeps on going.  Doesn't look like anywhere near end for her.  I think she's playing some incredible tennis.
She has an opportunity to win a calendar slam, which not many players have succeeded in their careers, both men and women.  If she manages to do that, obviously she'll just confirm that she's, if not the greatest, then definitely one of the greatest tennis players that ever played the game.
She's so strong and so dominant.  I have lots of respect for her.

Q.  What about the mental side?  What are your observations of the mental side of her game?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Well, I think the tremendous experience that she has playing over the years on the big stage helps her to approach these matches very confidently.  She wins most of her matches as a top player because of that mental edge.  She knows what she's supposed to do.  Most of the players, obviously we are a bit intimidated by her, all the success that she had, and her game.  I think that obviously helps.
But she's mentally really tough.  She's a great competitor.  She's a fighter.  I mean, you need to have that part of your character, kind of thinking never die, never give up.  She has that, definitely, and it's why she's there.

Q.  Getting back to your preparation, does it concern you at all that your two biggest rivals, Murray and Federer, have got match tough, won titles on grass, now have had five days to rest, prepare, really get ready?  With all due respect to Boodles, it's a lighthearted event, not like playing an event like Halle or Queen's.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Yes, of course, that's true.  As I said, it's not the first time.  Last couple years I haven't been playing any lead‑up tournament to Wimbledon and I still managed to play finals two years ago and to win the title last year, even though my rivals like Murray, Federer, Nadal, have been winning grass court tournaments in the previous years as well leading up to Wimbledon.
It's not of my concern, honestly.  I just want to get myself in a best possible shape.  I'm aware of the adjustment that is required movement‑wise, game‑wise, and also mentally for the grass courts coming from clay courts, playing for three months on the slowest surface where you can slide, where you have a completely different balance, different tactical approach.
Then you come to the grass where, you know, everything happens so quickly.  Two, three shots, there's a lot of variety with the slice, coming to the net.  You need to get out of maybe your comfort zone and start doing things differently, which this surface requires from you.

Q.  When did you start practicing after Paris?  What do you think about the more than tricky first round against Kohlschreiber?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Took me some time really to recover and to rest after Paris.  I didn't want to think about tennis too much.  I spent time with my family, just done other things.
Got myself on the court about 10 days ago, started practicing on grass.  Right now I think I'm also 100% prepared.  Hopefully tomorrow when I get on the court I'll be able to perform my best because that's something that is going to be very much needed in order to win against Kohlschreiber who, as you said, is a very tricky, very good opponent on any surface, but especially on grass.
It's one of the toughest first rounds I could get.  But this is Grand Slam.  This is what it takes.  You know, you need to step out there and perform your best, win against the best players in the world if you want to keep on going.

Q.  Boris Becker was talking on radio about the very intimate relationship you have, very good, personal and close.  He also was saying that when you're on court sometimes you look up for reassurance.  He has ways of telling you whether what you're doing is good or bad.  According to ATP and ITF rules, obviously no on‑court communication is allowed.  Could you kind of respond to these claims, these cheating allegations on the eve of Wimbledon really?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  I don't think that we're cheating.  I don't think that's how you can call it.  I mean, there are special ways of, I would say, communication.  As he mentioned, the way you look at each other, the way you feel your box, and box feels what you're going through on the court.  I think that's something that just gives you that reassurance, gives you that confidence.
It's not necessary that, you know, he tells me where to serve or to which side of the opponent's court I have to play, because that doesn't happen.  But it's more of a, you know, encouragement, and more of a support and reassurance, as I said, that's basically present in those moments.

Q.  It's not necessarily like a signal or anything like that?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Well, I think with all the cameras pointed out to him and to the box, I think you would already notice if he would just kind of go kick serve, slice, to do the backhand or forehand (smiling).
But again, we can't pretend like that's not happening in tennis.  Of course, there's situations when it happens, and not just with the top players, with everybody.  This is a very competitive sport.  You're alone on the court.  Of course, there's certain rules.
But also there are times when, you know, the team of the player communicates with the player when he gets to go and take the towel in the corner, which is closer to the box, or, you know, different ways.
I think it's all fine as long as it's not regular.  I think it just depends.  Also that's up to the chair umpire or supervisor to decide if somebody's breaking the rules or not.  I think as long as it's something that you can tolerate, let's say, within the ways of communication, I think it's fine.

Q.  This isn't the first time that you've come here losing the final match at the French Open.  Was the match with Stan more difficult to recover from than the others you had in Paris?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Well, obviously because it was the finals, and that the most important match of the tournament for me.  That's the match that I wanted to win, but it didn't happen, mostly because I lost to a better player that day.
I had to admit, no question about it, I could only just congratulate him because he was the one that was taking his chances, stepping into the court, being brave, coming up with some incredible shots.  He deserved to win.  There's no doubt about that.
Maybe I could have done a few things differently.  But it's all behind me now.  I'm experienced, and something that tennis has taught me over the years, to move on, and to be able to do that very quickly.
You have two out of four most important events in the sport just within three weeks' time.  You need to be able to reset very rapidly and get yourself a new motivation and inspire yourself to keep on going.  This motivation and faith has to be even stronger than it was three weeks ago.
So, you know, I've been in this particular situations before.  It's brought me a lot of mental, emotional strength.  Because of the matches like against Stan, I have become stronger and I've learned how to grow in the process.  Hopefully I'll be able to do that again.

Q.  Not to belabor that point, but you handled it with great grace and tact.  There must have been a point where you felt a bitter sting about that loss.  How long did it take you to really get over that and put it out of your system?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  I mean, right after I lost the match, of course, there was this sense of disappointment.  There is no doubt about it.  I felt that for, you know, some days after it.
Because I have a family, I have different things in life, different interest, I've managed to move on because of the experience that I talked about previously of learning how to handle these particular situations and circumstances.  I managed to get the necessary reset in my mind.
But, again, that's something that the traces may stay, let's say, for some time.  But you always try to train your mind to look on the bright side, to move on, to live what happened in the past, and just take it as a lesson, and something that will give you that strength.
But, you know, speaking of the closing ceremony, I felt something I never felt before in any Grand Slam final with any of my rivals that I played against before, this connection with Stan.  It was a really tough match, but when the match was over, I felt something that was very special.  I thought we shared these unique moments on the court and we showed to the world that even if we fight for the biggest title, we still have respect for each other and appreciation.
The way we greeted each other at the net, then after when he came to my bench, I appreciate it very much.  I think that shows his greatness, as well.  That's the way it's supposed to be.
I don't think obviously in today's world with rivalries that have picked up, in my opinion, some kind of wrong connotation where you're trying to create such a tense atmosphere between the two players, where instead you're supposed to just, you know, focus on the right values and the fair play and the respect to the opponent and to the game itself.
That's what I felt and I think people experienced that day.

Q.  Did you take a good look at the draw or are you taking it one by one?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Well, if you see Kohlschreiber in the first round, I think you have to stay where it is, take one match at a time (smiling).
Considering the fact, again, I haven't played any official grass court matches, I don't allow myself to look more than that.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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