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March 13, 2016

Novak Djokovic

Indian Wells, California

N. DJOKOVIC/B. Fratangelo

2-6, 6-1, 6-2

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. 149 in the world. Did you expect that level of tennis from someone ranked...
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I must admit that he has played really good tennis, especially in the first set. He came out with a good game plan, knowing what to do.

I started awful. Haven't played really great except second set. Other than that, just finding a way to win.

Today is one of those days where you don't feel the ball well. You know, swirly conditions, and just being tough. Trying to win with experience and with, you know, toughness in the clutch moments. That's what helped me to prevail.

Q. How much of it was the fact that you hadn't necessarily played -- maybe didn't know much about him?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yeah, I didn't know much about him, obviously. Again, it's not an excuse for coming out and playing the way I played in opening set. You know, I just was very low intensity. Legs were not there.

But, you know, I managed to regroup in the second. I felt the third started well and that I played a loose game to get him the break back and got him back in the match.

You know, I think the fifth game of the third was the deciding one. That break obviously meant that I can start to feel a bit more comfortable, play a little bit maybe more aggressive on the court. All in all, it was just not a great performance.

But, as I said, you know, you have to deal with it, accept it. A win is a win. Hopefully the next one will be better.

Q. (Question regarding Kukushkin in Belgrade.)
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: No. Honestly Kukushkin was, again, playing great in Davis Cup, but I had the different circumstances there health-wise and physically. You know, today was just one of those days, you know, where you didn't come out on the court with the right intensity. You don't execute things that you -- prior to going out on the court you plan to do with your team.

Again, even when I dropped the first set, I knew I gonna have my chance. Got to forget about what happened and start a match from scratch. You know, second was good; the third one, so-and-so. But wasn't easy also to have the right rhythm in these conditions.

I'm just glad to go through it.

Q. Aside from the Kukushkin where there were health issues, and you had a match with Kevin at Wimbledon and Gilles in the Aussie Open and him today, and yet great champions prevail. Talk about the art of surviving even when you're up against it. How do you call on that experience and so forth?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Ah, well, knowing that I have been in these situations many times before, I think that gives me an ease and comfort in a way, in those moments as much as you can get that comfort when you're out on the court and you're down and not playing well.

The experience, as I said, the self-belief, and knowing that I have done it before, I think it helps to get the engines going and really try to do well in the moments when the match is going to be decided.

Q. Today, if I could just follow up, you seemed patient, but like against Anderson you seemed to turn it up. Sometimes you go one way and sometimes the other.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yeah. I mean, it really depends on the occasion. I guess it depends who you're playing against. Conditions, you know, obviously playing in Wimbledon, grass court against Anderson who was, you know, serving big and, you know, obviously he beat Murray later on in US Open, proving that, you know, he deserves to be the top-10 player, top 15 as he is right now, very dangerous if he serves well and goes for his shots.

That's what happens. Sometimes you have to just wait and see and grasp the opportunity when it's presented. But when you're a top player, most of the matches that you play on you're a big favorite to win. You're expected to always win straight sets, and those are all part of, I guess, that position and pressures and, you know, ambitions that you have, that people have from you.

You know, the players just swing freely, and if they feel well, if they start well the match, then they can be very dangerous. That's what happened today.

Q. Who is your biggest threat for your way to the title?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, the tournament just started, so it's really hard to talk about one or two players.

Obviously there is always the players, the ones that are on the top. The top seeds are always, you know, the players to look for. But you have other players that have been playing well.

I think I'm going to play against one of them that is in form the next round, Kohlschreiber. He lost a game today and won against Berdych in Davis Cup. I saw him playing in Dubai, as well, playing well.

I have to kind of try and focus on my own hurdles to overcome and then think about the rest of the tournament.

Q. Where do you set expectations for yourself this year? Where is a fair bar, the standard you have set? A lot of things seem possible for you this year that normally we wouldn't consider to be reasonable expectations.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, you know, it's debatable, what is the reasonable expectation. Everybody has a different perspective, and, so from my own point of view, I have always high expectations for myself every tournament I play.

I think it's fair to have that kind of mindset because of the results and standard that I set myself in last couple of years.

You know, 2015 was really remarkable year, and obviously it's going to be a big challenge to repeat what I did last season. But why not think in a positive and optimistic way?

As long as I have that kind of approach, I think things will go in the right way.

Q. The match against Gilles Simon in Australia, how much do you think it was you having a bad day and how much was it him putting you off your game?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: It's a combination of things. When you start not so great your opponent feels that you're not having a good day and he feels, Okay, I'm playing a top player and I have nothing to lose. Gonna start, you know, start swinging freely on the court and playing the best as I can.

That's when the things get tough on the court for me or for any other top player in this particular situation. That's why you need to try to use that experience, stay composed, stay patient and, you know, wait for a little opening.

That's what I've done.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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