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May 15, 2016

Novak Djokovic

Rome, Italy

A. MURRAY/N. Djokovic

6-3, 6-3

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. This morning when you woke up and tried to practice, did it feel already like it was going to be a rough day to have a chance here?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I think you're training your mind to tell yourself things that are very positive, and so you're kind of deflecting and neglecting the tiredness and whatever wrong sensation you have in your body.

So I didn't really think about it, even though it's present. And it's obvious, I mean, I had a long couple of weeks, especially last couple of days. I knew it's going to be very hard for me, an uphill ride against Andy today, who was playing throughout the week on a very high level.

And, you know, to compete with him in long exchanges and rallies that we do have in our encounters, they required a lot more energy and, you know, better performance from my side which didn't happen.

Not taking anything away from Andy's win. On contrary, I think he deserved to win and deserved to win entire tournament, because he was the best player. He was the player that played in the best form throughout the entire tournament.

Q. Andy's results have improved a lot over the last year on clay. Do you think his game has changed on this surface specifically when you play him?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I think he's using the court better now. He has more variety in his shots from the baseline play, so obviously he did improve. Winning Madrid and Rome and, you know, couple of clay court tournaments the last couple of years proves it.

French Open, the conditions are also a bit quicker, which he likes, so he's been consistently playing well throughout the years, and I'm sure he's going to be very motivated to do well again. He's going to come in in great form to Paris.

Q. The strongest test before Roland Garros, because you had very tough match for all the week? More strong than in the past this tournament for you? Because a lot of matches, very, very, very hard?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I'm glad I managed to get to the finals, because a couple of matches I had to come back from one-set deficit. All in all, it was very good two weeks after, you know, dropping out in Monte-Carlo early. I needed this kind of results, winning one tournament and playing finals is great. I got what I was looking for, a lot of matches, and confidence and, you know, I spent a lot of hours playing on the clay, which now, leading up to Roland Garros is exactly what I need. Hopefully it's going to help me perform well in Paris.

Q. You seemed to have some nice words with Andy at the end. Are you able to share what you said?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I wished him Happy Birthday, because it's his birthday today, and just to enjoy the time with his family. I know that his wife, Kim, and Sophia were here. I know as a young father how much it means to you when your family is on the road and when you get to have at least a couple of days alone with them. That's what I wished him.

Q. You have had two weeks in a row now where your opponent in the final both times, Andy, got to play a much earlier semifinal on Saturday and you were stuck playing pretty late into the night. Do you think ATP should change something in the rules to make it so both semifinals before a big final should play in the same session and not many hours apart?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, this is a subject of discussion, has been ongoing for years. We are facing the same kind of problem with scheduling in many tournaments where TV is determining the schedule. And, you know, ATP doesn't really have much say there, I would say, you know. Many times it's just the TV says, Okay, we want to have the finals -- for example, in Cincinnati was 11:00 a.m. or 12:00, something like that one year. I remember playing with Andy a couple years ago Indian Wells semifinals at 10:00 a.m. or 11:00 a.m. Those kind of hours are ridiculous for this level of professional tennis.

But, you know, I guess you have to deal with it. You know, it's one of those things that can't be changed by one person. I'm hoping that, for the sake of the players, the sport itself, we can at least have some fair, I would say, fair scheduling towards the end of the tournament.

It's true. I mean, the bigger the gap, the better it is for the player that finished earlier. You know, all these things have to be taken into consideration.

Q. I saw that you were discussing quite a lot with the umpire, asking him maybe, I don't know, to postpone the match or the court was slippery, in your opinion? What should have he done? What were you exactly asking?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I didn't ask to postpone the match. I asked to have a little break where, you know, we would give a little more time, maybe five more minutes, to people to arrange the court.

The chair umpire knew that the forecast is good. There is not going to be any rain. I didn't see any reason why we couldn't stop the game for a little bit until we get the court in a proper condition to play.

You know, we played on a very, very heavy court because it was raining for an hour and it was very muddy behind the baseline. In three games I literally, you know, could have twisted my ankle two or three times. That's what I said.

And I asked him, you know, Is it necessary that something like this happens that somebody gets injured until he realizes what's going on? You know, it's, in the end of the day, I guess, his decision whether or not the court is playable.

But, you know, to me it's also ridiculous that the chair umpire, who doesn't wear tennis shoes and wears the casual shoes, comes out and just slides on the line and, you know, says, Okay, the court is good or not.

I mean, those things are -- you know, we can laugh about it now, but on the court, it's not just a matter of match whether or not you're going to play better or not, win or lose. It's a matter of you keeping yourself healthy. You know, it's us players that have to slide and run all over the court.

If we have the conditions like we had today, and if you keep on going for, you know, the reasons that are only familiar to himself, then, you know, the risk for an injury is much higher than it can be.

So that's the only thing. I was debating with him. You know, Why not stop for a little bit and have at least a little more time to get the court -- doesn't take long. Just a little more time for the court to dry and get it in a proper state so we can play on the high level.

Q. The lines were slippery?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Everything. I mean, behind the baseline, especially, where we move the most was, you know, was heavy, was muddy. Was very, you know, very wet.

Q. You took the warning after four games. Why you so nervous so soon in the match?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, look, it happens. These kind of matches are important for, you know, for both players. There is a lot at stake. Obviously when you get to play a rival, and of course you want to win, sometimes you get too emotional.

But, you know, I threw a rack the, racquet bounced over the fence, and I got warning instantly. So the chair umpire was on fire today. He really wanted to show the authority to me and to everybody, so congratulations to him.

Q. Do you already know how you're going to organize next week? Is it more rest or already going back to practice?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, the first few days definitely rest of next week. You know, then getting to Paris and practicing, getting myself ready and in shape. As I said, I already had enough time spent on the clay courts. Now it's just fine-tuning. It's getting those energy supplies that I will need for later on.

Q. You lost only two matches before the tournament. This loss just before Paris is more doubtful for you, the new tournament, Roland Garros?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: You know, my confidence level is high because of the matches, many matches that I have won this year on this surface and all the other surfaces.

So I don't feel that I'm doubtful or I'm shaken up by this loss. Of course, you don't like to lose, but, you know, you've got to congratulate the better player that played well today, Andy, and he deserved to win and I move on to Paris knowing that I'm going to approach it hopefully healthy and refreshed and then giving it my all, as always, in Paris.

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