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May 10, 2016

Novak Djokovic

Rome, Italy

An interview with:


THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. How are you feeling after a long week of matches in Madrid? How are you feeling physically for a pretty quick turnaround here?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Good. It's not the first time that I'm playing back-to-back weeks, so I'm just hoping I can carry on the high quality of performances I have had throughout the week in Madrid and also this week in Rome, you know, find that freshness and get as far as I can.

Q. With so many matches this year already, did it ever cross your mind in terms of pacing yourself for the French Open to miss one of the three clay Masters this year?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Once I step on the court, I don't know how to pace myself. You know, if I'm on the court and I'm there to get the job done, to try to win, and -- well, if I'm not participating in the tournament, then that's different, but I'm here already, so I think it would be disrespectful to the tournament and to all the people that come to watch you that, you know, you're thinking of some other tournament that's ahead of you. So that's not in my mind.

Q. I guess you heard about Mauresmo and Andy not working together anymore. You also took the road of hiring a former great player as your coach. When you're discussing with him what number of weeks he will dedicate and number of travels, have you talked about that? Is it a real big issue when you have that kind of choice?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I don't know exactly the particularity of the relationship between Andy and Amélie, but certainly it is, you know, a challenge to organize properly the time spent on the tour for the former players that also have their own, you know, families and private lifes and different things.

So it's hard for them to dedicate full time, especially the champions like Amélie Mauresmo and Boris Becker and people alike. Plus Amélie gave birth five, six months ago. So, you know, being a mother, it's the biggest and toughest job you can have in the world. So I can imagine how hard it was for her to travel.

But, you know, having said that, everybody's different. In tennis we are all individuals so we all try to make our team of experts the best possible and most suitable possible to ourselves, our styles of the game, our characters, because finally, you know, it's the team that really makes sure that you're at your top, at your best, that you're getting best out of your potential on the court.

Of course you are an individual athlete, but all the work that you do with your team affects your performance. You spend so much time with those people on the tour traveling. They're family, they're friends, they are people you rely on in the tough moments. You get to share life experience was them. You get to see them probably more often than your own parents.

So that's why it's such an important part of your life and your career to have the right team of people around you.

Q. This is the last big event before Roland Garros. Are you feeling the pressure of Grand Slam yet, or...
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I just answered the question that I'm focusing on Rome. I will speak about Roland Garros later.

Q. For me is very often the same players who won the great tournament in the world, the Slams: you, Rafa, Andy, and Roger. Meanwhile there is a new generation of young players that try to reach this goal but they fail to reach this goal, the great tournaments. You are the fab four. In your opinion, what's the reason?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, you have Wawrinka that won two Grand Slams, Cilic that won a Grand Slam, so it's not like it was only us, first of all.

There are some new generation of players that are showing some great firepower, great game, maybe some different level of aggressivity on the court, I think, like Alexander Zverev or Thiem and so forth. Those guys are definitely going to be a big challenge for the top players in the future.

That's an actual, I would say, cycle of life and of the tennis evolution is that you get new faces and a new group of players that are challenging the best players in the world. They are competing for the top spots.

So eventually somebody else would substitute all of us. But the dominance that has been present from Nadal and Federer, first of all, before Andy Murray and myself, we joined, was tremendous, and of course us two joining in that group is -- you know, we made that group of four players that are competing for biggest titles.

Whether or not it's good for sport, I don't know. I personally think it's great that we have, you know, big rivalries, matchups, that people like to see that creates a buzz and excitement, and especially on the big tournaments. Like last week, you know, few days ago I played against Murray in finals of Madrid, a great match, and you could feel that people appreciated the effort we put in on the court. Those are some moments that are defining moments of sport.

So I think we are, the four players that you named, are still the four I think biggest favorites to win the big, big tournaments, but it's not going to stay like this forever. Obviously we have some new players coming up.

Q. This isn't a particularly original question, but again raising the Amélie situation, can you tell us when you have a coach that has won everything in their own right and being a No. 1, what does that bring to you? What advantage is that to a player?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I can speak only to my own personal experience working with Boris Becker as a head coach who joined our team back in beginning of 2014. You know, it took some time for us, as I have answered this question many, many times before, but to really get to know each other and understand each other's, you know, characters and needs and so forth, the way we breathe, the way we work.

And when we managed to do that, when we managed to reach that high level of understanding and relationship, you know, we could really get the best out of each other.

So Boris was former No. 1 of the world, multiple Grand Slam winner, Davis Cup winner, I mean, somebody that has won it all, Olympic medals.

So he's true legend of tennis. To have him alongside me brings so much from the mental perspective, I think. You know, him already experiencing that, he can contribute to my preparations and, you know, my mental strength and stability in the big matches, because he understands the challenges and obstacles that I'm facing. Not just on the court but everything off the court, around, you know, the locker rooms, the practice sessions, the media. Everything that follows that, you know, he understands. He's been through that. We do get to talk about those aspects and obviously it works.

Q. I read that Toni Nadal said that you are so dominant also because Rafa Nadal and Roger Federer are not in their best moment. What do you think about?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I don't think about that anything. (Laughter.)

Q. Just on another question about Amélie, do you think the success that Andy had with Amélie could open the door to more female coaches at the top of the ATP after the two years they had together?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Sure. I mean, I think it was -- obviously it was a good move for Andy. He had success with Amélie, is No. 2 of the world, had a great relationship. He was referring to the, you know, the benefits of that relationship. I don't see any reason why not. I'm going to embrace that, for sure.

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