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May 11, 2016

Novak Djokovic

Rome, Italy


7-5, 7-5

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. I have two questions. The first question is if you can explain us the difficulties of today's match. And the second question is about the possibility to play against Nadal in the quarterfinal, if here in Rome and also in Paris, if you prefer to play against Nadal in the quarter or in the final?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, today was extremely difficult match for several reasons. The conditions were very tough. The player that I played against was very unpredictable with his shots. Obviously he didn't have anything to lose, so he was going for some shots that were amazing, and with these windy conditions you don't get too much rhythm.

So it wasn't easy for me to kind of find my way through the match, but I think I have done well staying mentally out there and fighting my way back in the second. When it mattered the most, I managed to make him play an extra shot and pull this one through.

Regarding potential quarterfinals with Nadal, we both have to get there. So I don't think it's necessary to talk about that now. When and if we get there, then we can talk about. And the same for Paris.

Q. What can you say about the game style of Stephane Robert, which is, as you said, unpredictable?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: It's just, describing in one word, is unpredictable. He's got very unconventional service motion but he can hit the serve over 200. You know, it's very quick, so you don't have much time really to read his serve. I never played against him, so it was very hard for me to, you know, catch some kind of rhythm in the match.

You know, he can be equally aggressive and play very flat shots from both forehand and backhand. But he has a good dropshot, a good feel for the, you know, for the court and for the game, good anticipation.

You know, he's experienced player. He's been around for so many years, and you could sense that today. Plus, you know, he hit some shots that were quite incredible. And why not? You know, he had nothing to lose and he was probably thinking, okay, that's the way I can get a chance is to attack the first ball I can, which he did.

Some shots were really amazing, you know, from nowhere. You know, that's what made my life a little bit more difficult on the court, but I just -- I'm happy that I pulled this one through in straight sets.

Q. You haven't done this quick turnaround from Madrid to Rome since a while. Is it tougher than you were expecting mentally or physically to adjust here so quickly?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, ideally I would like to have a few more days to get used to the conditions and the courts that are different, but it's not the first time that I'm in this particular situation.

So I try to get the best out of it, you know. I warmed up on the center court this morning, and it was good that I actually got to spend more time on center court to play, to feel the conditions, and hopefully tomorrow will be better. I'm moving on to the next day and that's what matters most.

Q. I'd like to ask you some questions about sponsors. Normally it was much easier to find a sponsor for a player that, say, was Italian because there were a lot of Italian companies years ago. Then some countries, Eastern European countries, sometimes have more problems when you're young to find sponsor. How is it for you? And what is your reaction to the fact that now you're sponsored by Peugeot? For instance, Peugeot is invading a little bit the tennis world, ATP, here in Rome for transportation, where before it was in Roland Garros, just in France.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: The good thing is that I always have a car available, you know. (Smiling.) And it helps.

Well, one thing is for sure, I do get a better chance to get a good sponsor today than I did when I was 17, but it certainly is a challenge, I think, for any professional athlete, really, to find a sponsor that is aligned with this athlete's character and visions and, you know, kind of life values.

So I try to kind of identify myself and connect myself with a sponsored partner, with sponsors and companies that are alike, you know, they have same kind of values and mission in life and the strategies and so forth. I don't like -- I was never supporting and was never supported by any company that I don't believe in or any product that I am not using.

So far in my life I had a fortune to be supported with some key sponsors. And I like long-term relationships, so hopefully the sponsors that I have right now can stay with me for longer period of time, because I don't like to change too much, because I understand that the long-term relationship can actually give you some, I would say, results that you're looking for in terms of this partnership relationship and what you're looking for inspiring, you know, young children, contributing to the communities, and so forth.

So UNIQLO, Peugeot, Seiko, they all have very strong CSR programs, which is very important to me. I'm glad that one of my sponsors is now official global sponsor of ATP. Of course, it helps for one reason that I stated in the beginning (smiling).

Q. During his press conference, Federer said that this year it's not his year in Rome. Maybe next year. Do you think it's a strategic move or he really believes that?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I don't know. He's still in the tournament, so there is a potential -- there is a possibility that it's, you know, that it's his year. So I don't know why he has said that, but he had probably good reason for that.

Q. I think he was talking about the back issues that he has, and Andre Agassi had them later in his career, too. Do you ever have issues with your back? And how do you try to keep your back healthy?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Of course. Of course I have. I mean, everybody does, I think. Spine is a core, is a foundation of every human's body, and especially athletes. But also it's vulnerable, especially if you are playing as many matches, training, and, you know, have to be adapting to different conditions like, for example, this year, which is today and yesterday was very windy, so, you know, when you sweat and your shirt is wet and it's so windy it's not really so pleasant for your back.

That's why we have big teams of people, physiotherapists that are experts in their field and they are contributing to the well-being that is required for any player if you want longevity, if you want results.

So we spend a lot of time on the tables, trust me, before training, before the match, after the match, a lot of time, a lot of time stretching, doing different kind of exercises for strengthening, prevention.

You know, if you really want to play at the top and if you want to be a candidate for a top spot in the world, you need to be healthy. In order to be healthy, you need to really be devoted, I mean, for several hours a day to your body.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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