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March 11, 2016

Novak Djokovic

Indian Wells, California

THE MODERATOR: Questions please.

Q. Complicated past few weeks with eye issues and rough weekend at Davis Cup. How do you feel coming into this tournament?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I'm just glad I don't wear sunglasses while talking to you guys, which was the case after the match in Dubai.

It was a couple of not easy weeks for me health-wise, but it was due to a lot going on on the court and off the court that, you know, caused maybe a weaker immune system that was more prone to those kind of infections.

Has happened first time honestly in my life to have some kind of an issue with an eye. Yeah, after that it was the Davis Cup. It was not physically very easy those three days, but all in all, I feel good. I feel already adjusted to the time zone of the West Coast. I have been here for already several days.

You know, going back to normal. Hopefully I will be able to play at my best from the beginning.

Q. You gave a pretty impassioned defense with Viktor Troicki when he had the situation with WADA. I'm curious to hear your views on Sharapova and her situation and how you think that should proceed.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yes. Well, it's been the talk of the tennis world for the last couple of days, and this kind of news caught us all by surprise. I think I can talk about, you know, Maria and her situation from two perspectives.

First as a friend, somebody that knows her for a long time, of course I do feel sorry about what's happening with her. I know that, you know, she has always been very responsible and aware towards herself, towards the sport, very disciplined, very kind of hard working, hard-working ethics, and love what she does.

You know, she believes and still does believe that the hard work really pays off, and that's what gets her titles.

So as a friend, you know, I really hope that she will find the best possible way. I thought she was very courageous and was very human, brave of her, to go out and take the responsibility and say what has happened. She did admit that she made a mistake with her team, and I think, you know, you don't have to blame ^ WADA for anything.

It's completely normal to expect that under these circumstances, you know, the player that has made this mistake has to suffer certain kind of consequences, and I'm sure she's aware of that. She has approached this very maturely. I really admire that.

On the other hand, from the different perspective, I talk as somebody that is involved in professional tennis and sport for so many years that always believed in clean and fair sport.

So I do -- I do hope that -- I mean, obviously I can't speak about the details because I don't know. I know as much as you guys know whether or not she was aware of the changes. But certainly if there was a mistake and if she was caught to be positive on the doping for a certain substance, then there should be certain kind of, you know, consequences for that.

But, again, I'm not here to talk about, you know, whether or not she needs to be away from the courts for certain periods of time. You know, I leave this to WADA and antidoping agency and, you know, organizations that are responsible for that.

Q. Circling back to something you said earlier about getting acclimated and used to the time change, as much as you guys crisscross the globe, how long does it usually take you to get acclimated, and has it gotten easier over time? Does it get harder over time? What are some of the things you do to make sure you're rested and ready when play starts?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, there are certain kind of theories going around. I heard about the theory of necessity for the body to take -- to get acclimated to a certain time zone, certain hours, you know, that you need as many days as many hours that you change.

So basically, if you're going to Australia for ten-hour difference in relation to Europe, then you need ten days to really get your body used to it.

But I think from my personal experience you can do it much quicker. Obviously, you know, it really does depend, how you know -- I believe in nutrition and the hydration and the mental side of it. If you prepare yourself for going already to that place, you set your clock, watch to that time zone, and you really kind of devote yourself already to that part of the world, then it seems easier.

At the beginning of my career I struggled more, but I felt like with certain different adjustments and things that you're finding out that it's easier.

But, again, the experience kicks in, as well. I think that all the tennis players are required to acclimatize as soon as possible because that's part of our -- part of what we do and part of our schedule, and you can't afford yourself to waste too much of your time.

Fortunately, before this tournament we have, you know, six, seven days, depending on where you are the week before. We played Davis Cup in Europe, so it's more than enough, really, to get yourself ready.

Q. Since 2007 you have been in the finals here I think five times and you won it four times. If you win again this year you will be the winningest player at this tournament. Can you talk to me about what it is about this tournament that plays to your game and why you have been so dominant here?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, conditions are I think pretty suitable to my style of the game. I like to have a little bit more time to construct the point. The game is based on the baseline. The speed of the court, the surface, I feel comfortable on the court. Especially in the afternoon, night matches, when it's a bit slower.

The ball bounces high, you know, as well. I grew up on clay. I grew up with a high bounce. I feel comfortable playing on these courts.

Also, the overall off-the-court feeling, seeing what this tournament is doing for players and setting up a really high standard of quality, of organization, attracting more fans, increasing the attendance each year.

It all plays in the favor of excitement and really kind of feeling of looking forward to perform and to play in such circumstances in front of people that really appreciate you being there.

These fans are truly great. I mean, you can see how much they love tennis. Every practice session is full. Every match that you play from the very beginning, they are there.

So, you know, I think the whole package really makes you feel happy.

Q. The top four players on the men's tour are all fathers. That seems kind of unusual. Can you talk to me about why you think there are more top guys being fathers? What are the challenges associated with it? Also, how you make it work.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I don't think it's unusual. You know, when you look at the other sports, I mean, football players, all the top players, are already parents.

Q. But we haven't seen that in tennis often.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Oh, you mean in the tennis? Well, I think times change, I guess (Smiling.) You know, obviously I can't speak in the name of the other players, but from my perspective it has brought a lot of joy and a lot of love and just completely new dimension of positive energy to my life and to me as a tennis player.

I have a great sense of ease and harmony and peace in life that I haven't had maybe before to that extent. I was always working on it and I have ways to keep yourself focused and composed and keep that dedication going towards the sport.

But, you know, once I became a father and really realized the dream of I think most people in this world to become a parent, is, you know, after that I felt very fulfilled, very complete, you know, as a person.

So it has greatly affected in a positive way my tennis career and just overall me as a person.

Q. Have you ever heard of Meldonium, the drug Maria tested positive for?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: (Shaking head).

Q. In your situation, when you receive the e-mails telling you what's on the banned list, do you look at them yourself or is that something your team does?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: No, I never heard of that medication. Just one more thing I wanted to say, because I feel like in the sport in general there is maybe a conviction with many athletes that maybe medications and certain substances can make you feel healthy or, you know, feel better.

I don't believe in that kind of short-term process. I believe in long-term balance and harmonious health and well-being that is achieved, you know, with -- from different aspects.

I wouldn't say that there is a magic potion or elixer that can make you feel better. No, I never heard about that substance.

And regarding e-mails, I have to be frank that I don't read them all. I do have the team of people that is working with me and that, you know, I have faith 100%, and if there is any significant changes that I need to be aware of, I am aware of. They do let me know.

We communicate of course on a daily basis between the medical team, between the marketing team, or, you know, operational team. There is always something that needs to be discussed.

But, you know, of course it's hard to judge and blame anybody here. I mean, as far as I know, this substance has been banned just recently this year and before that it was allowed.

Now, I don't know what the pros and cons are of this medicine, but it can happen to many people if it's only a case of negligence, of Maria and her team of not really paying attention to the change.

Now, whether or not she was informed before or not, I don't know that. I think the communication may be from the side of the governing bodies of tennis maybe should be a little bit better in terms of involvement of maybe ATP, as well, because I feel like maybe sometimes ATP is stepping on the side because it's a matter of ITF and WADA.

But we are all part of ATP world, and representing players and we are representing...

Q. So you don't get any notification?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: No. ATP is completely aside of it. I think there should be maybe a little bit more of involvement maybe, you know, people, players relations side, people engaged in this communication with players.

I think that, you know, specifically for these particular changes. Again, you can say, you know, yes, if a player was informed once, I mean, it's not our fault that this player hasn't checked his e-mail or thoroughly went through the changes, you know.

But on the other side, we live a very busy life and there is a lot happening. I think at least what we can do is to have this double, you know, kind of confirmation of the change also from ATP side.

Again, I'm trying to understand both sides. I'm trying to understand.

Q. It's interesting, because I think the women do, WTA do.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I don't receive the ATP ones, but, again, I don't put the blame on ATP. I'm just saying there are maybe ways to improve the communication so that these things don't happen in the future, because what has happened with Viktor Troicki was also something that was very debatable.

I know him since I was seven years old, so I know -- I know him like my own brother, so I can, you know, claim that he has never -- has done or taken something that, you know, would be banned. Which he didn't, as well. He was banned for 18 months for kind of refusing to give the blood sample that day, and he got the verbal confirmation from that lady that was working for WADA that he can do that because he was feeling bad.

So because of this, you know, small certain situation and circumstances and negligence of somebody, you know, a player suffers for 18 months' ban. Those kind of things, you know, need to be communicated better I think in order not to kind of damage the player's career.

Q. Because of the communication issue and the fact that the list changes every year, have you ever been in a situation when you have had a health issue, doctor has prescribed something for you to help you and have you been scared to take it?

Q. Have you ever refused to take it?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yes. Many times. Because, I mean, there were situations before where you have the regular nasal spray that, you know, will help you maybe release the allergies and so forth, certain things that I encountered before in the beginning of my career.

But you had to go through a procedure that is honestly very long, and it takes four, five days, at least to get the permission to do that if you're not part of the tournament and the official doctor cannot really grant or guarantee for you to consume that substance.

So, yeah, I mean, you are obliged to follow the procedure and to respect the process, and that's what you can do.

But sometimes it's, you know, you're in the situation where you need to recover the next day or second day, and, you know, you've got to accept the reality. That's what it is.

That's why I think that maybe also this internal channels of communication between WADA and I guess the athletes in sport can be better, can be improved, can be maybe more proactive, I would say.

Q. As No. 1, people expect you to win almost every week, which is really impossible. How do you look at it? The slams of course are very important, but each week when you go to a tournament, you say, I have to win this, I'm supposed to win this? Do the four majors take on a different philosophy?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, my thinking and my approach is not I have to win this, I'm supposed to win this, but I'm going to win this. Then I believe in myself and I carry that confidence, and that has brought me to where I am at this moment.

But I'm not the only one thinking that way. You know, I try to be also very respectful of my colleagues, of the sport, and of the fact that, you know, in this tournament over 90 players are fighting for that trophy.

As you mentioned, you know, Grand Slams are the biggest, most prominent tournaments we have in sport. But, you know, Indian Wells is just behind them. You know, you can't kind of live out of and maybe think only about four tournaments a year. I mean, it wouldn't be respectful towards the ATP tournament. We have many great tournaments. Do I come here with intention to play my best and win.

Q. Am I right that, I mean, you don't go in saying, Oh, this one doesn't matter?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: No, no, no. I mean, that's the way I have been brought up and that's the way I have been taught to think. I grew up in this kind of circumstances where I do really appreciate every moment spent on the tour, and every tournament that I play is well planned and organized. I'm not going to a tournament just to, you know, perform and get the appearance and go away, you know.

I'm really trying to always give my best, because I understand that there is --you know, I think if you put yourself in a position to really understand the other sides of tournament organization. I think helped the fact that my family used to run four years the tournament. Helped me to understand even more that side of it, that perspective of needing to satisfy the sponsors, the fans, you know, bringing the top players, how much effort you need to put into there.

So when they come and actually don't put in an effort and then go away and take the money, it's really -- it's not respectful. There is no integrity behind it. I try never to do that. I always have in back of my mind no matter where I go, there is a far more reach to many more people that are coming to see me play. You know, pay tickets.

So that's always in the back of my mind and makes me more even motivated to play at my best.

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