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May 4, 2016

Novak Djokovic

Madrid, Spain


6-2, 6-4

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Sometimes here the crowd doesn't have the best behavior with you. They always support your rivals. What did you think about this behavior? Is it related to the fact that you haven't come last two years?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I didn't feel any bad behavior today. In contrary, I think the people were giving me a very nice reception.

It was the same case when I arrived in Madrid on Friday and had a center court practice. I had really a wonderful welcoming from the people in the organization of this tournament and the people in the stands watching the practice. I thought it was a great match to be part of. I thought the crowd was entertained.

I honestly missed playing here. I didn't come last two years for certain reasons that were related to the scheduling and the injury that I had, but it was nothing to do with the crowd. I mean, I always had lots of fun playing here.

I know that one of my biggest rivals every is Nadal that comes from Spain, so it's normal that the people are going to lean towards cheering for him in cases when we play against each other. I thought that the crowd support that I've had on the practice sessions these days and today on the court were outstanding, and I thank all the people.

Q. How did you feel today? What do you think about your next round with Roberto Bautista?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, second match on the clay court season for me. First one didn't go so well for me in Monte-Carlo. I had some time to recuperate I think emotionally and mentally. I needed that more than physically because it has been a very successful but very demanding start of the season, first four months. I played a lot of matches.

So I thought it happened for a reason for me to have a little bit more time off. I came in earlier as I said, Friday. Had plenty of good practice sessions with the best players. I thought that I performed very solid in opening round. Few things could have been better.

But, again, overall was a satisfying performance against a young player that I never played against, against somebody that was in form. I watched his match against Almagro who win a tournament last week. He beat him comfortably in two sets. That deserves respect. I knew that he likes to play in these kind of conditions.

He's going to come out on the court not really having much to lose. But we know each other well. We practice many times. I do see myself in him a little bit. We play similar styles of the game. He's a great fighter. For his age, quite mature and mentally tough.

You know, try to help him out whenever I can and mentor him a little bit with some advices. We have a very nice relationship. Today was the first official match we played against each other, so I was happy with my performance. It was a fun match to be part of.

Hopefully I can keep going tomorrow as well against Bautista, that is very solid. Plays pretty flat. Not really characteristic for Spanish style of tennis that involves a lot of rotation and spin on the shots. Bautista, as I said, runs around; always makes the opponent play an extra shot. He's very calm on the court, very composed. We played each other few times. I think last time was in US Open. Close match.

Yeah, he's going to play in front of his home crowd and it's going to be a good one.

Q. Borna said that this match shows him he's very far away from your level right now and he needs to work harder, that maybe in the next five years he could reach this level. Do you feel like this generation, do you feel this too, the margin you guys have with his generation?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I think that Borna, as I said, has really impressive level of maturity for his age. He has a nice balance between confident approach and self-belief on the court and not being really intimidated by anyone's presence. And of course humbleness, as we could see in his statement.

I think that's the key for the long-term success for him. As I said, I really do see potential in him. I can identify myself with him because we have very similar backgrounds coming from Croatia and Serbia. We have the same mentality, speak same language, more or less same trajectory or path to professional tennis as I did.

Yeah, he's one of the players that we can see a lot from in the future. Whether or not that's going to be a reality depends solely on him and people around him. I'll be here to help. I'll be glad to help him become better.

Q. You played here a couple years ago when the clay was blue. I know you and a lot the other players weren't happy with that choice. I know you had played on it before the tournament and tested it out. Just wondering if you think innovation like that can ever be tried again or if the desire to stay traditional should win out and we shouldn't be creative with that sort of thing in the future?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I applaud the innovative and creative spirit of the Ion Tiriac and people from this tournament willing to take the next step and try to change something and bring something more entertaining and interesting for the crowd and players and everybody else in the tennis.

Everything in life is evolving, and we do, too. From that perspective I think it was a good move. Again, didn't turn out to be a great success. I personally didn't like playing on that clay. For some reason it was more slippery than red clay. I found it very difficult to move around and slide, and I think Rafa did, too.

Yeah, so, again, it was only one-year affair. Whether or not we're going to see blue clay in the future, we don't know. For now, we're going to stick with red clay because I think it works the best.

In general, I think people should be able to consider respecting and of course always be true to the integrity of the sport and the history and never forget that, but, again, having the kind of mindset of innovation and evolution, which I salute. I think that it's the right way. Everything is moving forward. Tennis should, too.

Q. Sorry to ask you about something a bit of a way in the future, but I know the Olympic Games are a big aim for you. Andy was in here yesterday saying that he didn't intend to stay in the Olympic Village. You're a guy that like likes to be surrounded by your fellow Serbian athletes. What are your plans in that respect?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I have fortunately both options available, because we are going to I think spend at least a week before the tennis tournament starts. We're going to have more time to spend with athletes in the Village, so the week before I'm going to try to spend more in the Village.

Once the tournament starts I think I'm going to be needing my space and privacy and peace practice, so I am going to use the other option.

Q. Were there some special pressure after the loss in Monaco, or back to usual business?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I was really looking forward to step on the court and compete because I haven't played a competitive match on clay courts for three weeks. The one that I played in Monaco wasn't really a fun time on the court, so I needed some match play.

I thought I started off well. You know, held my composure all the way through mentally. Coric is a player that fights a lot and puts a lot of balls back in play, but also has a strong first serve. So I needed to come out with a good intensity and focus, which I did. That's what I'm going to take as a positive out of today.

Q. You mentioned that you weren't 100% happy with your serve today.

Q. I was wondering how much altitude might affect that and whether it takes a while to get used to it?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yes, well, I mean, altitude should naturally help the serve. But, again, I thought I was serving quite well in the practice sessions. Today in the first set went well; second, not so much.

Again, this is match play. When you get on the court you go through these moments of ups and downs. It's hard to have days when everything is working in your shot selection.

So today the serve, first serve percentage could have been higher and should be higher for the upcoming matches.

And I'll work on it. I think it's just a matter of balance and rhythm that comes with time.

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