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June 5, 2016

Novak Djokovic

Paris, France


3-6, 6-1, 6-2, 6-4

THE MODERATOR: Questions in English.

Q. Many congratulations. Can you just describe what went through your mind at 5-4 and after the match point after all those years you have tried to win this Grand Slam?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, a lot has been going on in my mind ever since I arrived in Paris, but I felt like this year when I arrived that it's really different from any other year. The relationship and connection I had with fans and with people around that are, you know, contributing to the organization of the event, that I see on a daily basis, from security to, you know, ball boys, ball girls and all the people around, it was just different, you know.

Obviously, as any other year, I was hoping that this is the year. You know, I felt that kind of support and love from the people around that allowed me to be sitting here with the trophy. That's for sure. That kind of support was very well present at the stadium today.

You know, I entered the court quite prepared. I started well first game, and then I dropped four games. You know, nerves kicked in. You know, I needed a little bit of time to really find the right rhythm and start to play the way I intended, which happened in the beginning of the second and practically till 5-2 in the fourth set. It was flawless tennis. I really felt like I played on a high quality and putting a lot of pressure on Andy's serves and just trying to hang in there.

I was coming into the court today knowing that I need to give it all in every aspect of my being and every meaning of that word in order to win this trophy, and so when I got to 5-2 I was just -- when I broke him the second time and I got to 5-2 in the fourth, I just started laughing. I don't know. I had that kind of emotion.

I didn't feel too much pressure, honestly. Maybe I took things a bit too lightly and, you know, just played a loose game at 5-2. Andy encouraged himself each point to, you know, come back and fight through, which he did.

Then 5-4 obviously, 40-15, you know, two close points, then, yeah. You know, you train as a professional athlete to always be in the moment and focus on the next point and not care too much about what's in the past or what is coming up because you can't influence that.

We're all humans, and arriving so close like never before in my life to this trophy and winning it, you know, I felt it. I felt the tension and excitement, all the emotions. You name it.

And then, you know, I was just trying to focus on serving well, getting the first serve in and trying to put myself in a good position those points, which I have done in the last couple of exchanges.

In the last point I don't even remember what happened. It was really one of those things -- moments where you just try to be there. It's like my spirit has left my body and I was just observing my body, you know, fight the last three, four exchanges, you know, going left to right and hoping that Andy will make a mistake, which has happened.

And, yeah, a thrilling moment. One of the most beautiful I have had in my career. I hope that answers your question. (Laughter.)

Q. Building on what you said, that you felt that everything was different this year, would you say that it started exactly at last year's ceremony? Because you told me in London that you never felt anything like that before.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yes, yes. I really felt something very strong with French crowd, you know, with Wawrinka. It was just particular moment that I had never felt before on the court last year in the final.

I fell short. You know, I didn't win that match. You know, I lost to a better player. But, you know, what happened afterwards, the appreciation and respect I got from the crowd and that standing ovation really touched me deep inside.

You know, I was so looking forward and so eager to come back and, you know, be part of this event again. I think you're right, you know. That's where it actually got to another level of connection.

Q. What's it like to hold all four Grand Slam titles at the same time?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, it's incredibly flattering to know that Rod Laver is the last one, you know, that managed to do that, of course. There is not many words that can describe it. It's one of the ultimate challenges that you have as a tennis player.

I'm very proud, very thrilled, obviously. You know, but it's hard for me to reflect on what has happened before and what's gonna happen after. I mean, I'm just so overwhelmed with having this trophy next to me that I'm just trying to enjoy this moment.

Q. Could you tell us when did you talk to Guga about to draw the heart? And what he said to you? What did you ask him? When did you have that idea about it?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, we had a nice couple of days of commercial shoot for Peugeot. We did a couple of fun, fun videos together.

Then I had one of these traditional rides with him with the car and the camera inside. Takes you from the tennis club to home. Then we talked, and then, you know, I mentioned that to him even before, that him drawing the heart on the court is for me personally most memorable moment that I have ever seen from Roland Garros. It was something completely different.

I asked him if I have that permission and honor in case I win to do that. So he gave me that permission. I still haven't seen him now, and hopefully I will see him soon so we can share the impressions of that.

Q. There was a period when you were banging your head against the wall against Federer and Nadal and didn't feel like you were -- you didn't know if you would ever breakthrough. Now you have accomplished something that your two greatest rivals probably will never have the chance to do. I'm wondering if that's meaningful to you, and if so, why?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, first, they're still active players, so I think it's fair to say that they still have a chance to do.

But they were both not a match but couple sets away from doing that a few times in their careers.

You know, I was saying a million times before and I will say it again: These two guys -- and Andy, as well -- the rivalries with all three of the guys have definitely, in a big part and big margin, helped me to become a better player and helped me achieve all these things.

Of course, look, you know, the rivalries that we have are important for the sport, and in one way or another you try to compare yourself to them and what they have achieved before. Nadal and Federer were so dominant in the sport when Andy and myself came in in the mix.

But, again, I'm just glad to be -- at the beginning I was not glad to be part of their era. (Laughter.) Later on I realized that in life everything happens for a reason. You're put in this position with a purpose, a purpose to learn and to grow and to evolve.

Fortunately for me I realized that I need to get stronger and that I need to accept the fact that I'm competing with these two tremendous champions and that, you know, then everything was uphill from that moment on.

Q. How important was saving the break point in the first game of the second set? Because it did seem like the match changed after that.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, yes, that was one of the crucial moments. But, you know, I think in general, just in the second set, even that game that I was facing break point I still felt different than I felt in the first set.

I restarted my system and I got myself to run in a positive direction, you know. I felt better, more comfortable on the court.

As I said, you know, to 5-2 in the fourth set, that window of tennis was just great quality.

Q. You said some very kind words about Roger and Rafa earlier, but do you feel by doing this, doing something no one can say Roger has done it so many more times, Rafa has done it so many more times, this is your own unique achievement than those guys, have you stepped out from under their shadow, do you feel?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I don't think it's me to judge that. I'm not -- in some ways I was comparing myself to them in terms of game and what I need to do to learn to get the best out of my abilities and try to overcome the challenge of winning against them and trying to break their dominance.

I'm not comparing myself to them, you know, as people, as persons. We are all different. We're all unique in our own ways, and I have great respect for both of them and what they have -- who they are, first of all, and what they have achieved in their life. They mean a lot to the sport.

Plus, they are years ahead of me in terms of being part of professional circuit. They are great champions on and off the court, and because of the time they spent on the tour, they have lots of fans around the world and lots of support. It's wonderful to see.

I'm just glad to be competing with them. That's all. I obviously am trying to focus and direct my attention to what I do and to who I am and what I bring to the life and to the sport.

So I think all of us contribute something different.

Q. 25 years ago Jim Courier won this tournament and everyone thought he was very strong, very athletic, very powerful, but not so much touch, and he was a little bit annoyed about that. I want to ask you today, you were unbelievable. Every time you were playing a dropshot you did incredible things with the touch. It's something that we did not expect a few years ago from you. Did that give you particular satisfaction, those points? Pumped up? Important? They were important points.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Some important points I won with dropshot, but I think percentage-wise I have lost more points with playing a dropshot than I won today. I put myself in a little bit of a tricky situation when playing those dropshots when maybe I could have chosen a different selection of a shot.

Regarding the touch, growing up in Serbia we played a lot of mini tennis, a lot of different games in the service box, and I think that helps. That helps a little bit. And over the time, over the course of my career, I tried to always keep that, you know, routine, especially in the practice, preparation parts of the year where I get to do that, you know, with other players that I practiced with. You know, we get to play this.

It's nice. It helps on clay, especially.

Q. First of all, Nole, I'm very sad to report that Gustavo Kuerten was extremely disappointed in your artwork. He thought the composition had problems and you need to work on it. In a serious way, talk a little bit -- well, it's so hard to cross the finish line, really, after two weeks, after years, after a whole career. Just talk about that time when you felt you were almost out of your body. Express that.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Kind of out-of-body experience. I felt it very few times in my career where I actually, you know, felt that my body was just on autopilot, you know, and that I'm -- because of the emotions, because of the -- I mean, everything starts from inside, you know. The way you perceive things in life, that's how they happen for you.

So obviously on the court I realized the importance of the moment that I'm in. And also, we played for three hours and, you know, I had a long season so far. We were both exhausted.

That last point was the moment where you get into this mode of autopilot, basically. I felt that maybe for a bit longer time with Nadal in finals of Australian Open 2012 where we played almost for six hours.

So, you know, usually it happens when you don't have much feel left in you and you have long exchanges. But, yeah, as I said, I think between 5-2 and 5-4 and actually closing out the match a lot has happened in my mind, in my soul, I think.

Just being filled with joy, being, you know -- kind of serving for a match, double break up, laughing about the situation, being like, you know, overwhelmed with positive emotions and sensations. And then, you know, getting myself to the opposite side where I'm tense and nervous, whether or not I can close it out, you know.

But I guess, you know, in order to, in order for me to win this trophy I had to go through that. To achieve big things life, when you do that, you need to push yourself above the limit and really take the best out of your abilities on a given day.

And you need to be ready for it, because when it's coming, it's coming out hard.

Q. You mentioned Rod Laver earlier, and of course what he did in 1969. Is that idea of a calendar-year Grand Slam something that ever entered your mind as something to try to aim for or dream of? Now that you're halfway there, which is rare just to get the first two of the year, does it seem achievable and something you want to strive for now?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I don't want to sound arrogant, but I really -- I really think everything is achievable in life. You know, winning this trophy today gave me so much happiness and fulfillment. I'm trying to grasp and I'm trying to cherish, obviously, these moments right now.

Whether or not I can reach a calendar slam, that's still a possibility. But, you know, I don't think about it right now. You know, right now I just try to enjoy this experience of winning the trophy that I never won before.

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