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June 1, 2016

Novak Djokovic

Paris, France

N. DJOKOVIC/R. Bautista-Agut

3-6, 6-4, 6-1, 7-5

THE MODERATOR: Questions in English.

Q. Can you just talk to us about how the past couple of days have gone for you? How difficult it was to go on court, off court, yesterday's conditions in particular?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I remember early in my career I played a match against Kiefer in Wimbledon for five days. That was the longest I have played one match. This is probably the second longest. Same reason: raining.

You know, weather conditions are something you can't really affect if you don't have special abilities. Other than that, you have to wait and pray for good weather, and that's what we did.

Yesterday the match was interrupted three times, and of course it wasn't easy coming into the facilities here at 9:00 a.m. and leaving at, you know, 7:30 or 8:00 p.m., but it's not the first and probably not the last time I'm going to have to face these particular circumstances. Not only for us players but it was difficult for all the crowds that were coming in and paying tickets to watch the matches. Then they watch maybe an hour and then they go home, and two days ago, no matches at all.

And the weather forecast, as far as I heard, is not that great for the coming days. So that's the reason why we should have the roof here (smiling). I'm hoping we're going to have it very soon.

Q. A few of the women who played the same time as you yesterday were saying they thought the conditions were not playable, that play should have been stopped. Do you agree with that? And also, you're in a part of the draw where we'd have to play four times in five days if it's still a Sunday final. Do you think that's too much to expect for a man to do in best of five?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, conditions were definitely on the edge throughout the entire day yesterday. Bautista and I played I think more than two sets in the mist. It was literally maybe five to ten minutes of the entire stay of over one-and-a-half hours we had yesterday on the court without rain. So it was practically raining throughout the entire play, which made it more and more difficult for our performances and focus and everything.

But again, you know, once you accept the circumstances and the decision is such that you play, then you have to go with it.

It's the same for you and your opponent. But it was a great mental test for all of us, really, yesterday the entire day. I'm, in a way, glad to have a match like this, because it's a challenge that you need to overcome mentally mostly.

Regarding the scheduling, well, that's the way it is. Talked a little bit with the ATP representatives, people in the organization of the tournament. You know, there is not much, as I said, you can do about the weather. For now I will just focus on my quarterfinals tomorrow that I'm supposed to play, and then we'll see what happens. You know, obviously I wish I can play tomorrow quarterfinals. Let's see if that happens and then we will take it from there.

Q. You're a fairly experienced player now. What's your mental and psychological approach to all the delays, the courts? What are the kind of things you're telling yourself when you're waiting around and having to adjust to these circumstances?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, in one way the experience helps being in these particular situations before and knowing that there is not much you can do except to make sure that the attitude you have is positive and it's calm and serene and focused. And that's all, you know.

It's a lot of work to make that happen, considering the external influences, but it's something that comes along with the time and the effort that you put into making yourself mentally stronger.

Q. Regarding the rain and the circumstances and the wait, can you evaluate your level of play right now? Do you feel you're playing your best tennis at the moment?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, look, you know, day to day it changes as the weather conditions and you have to adjust. I'm in the quarterfinals, and, you know, I dropped one set. So, you know, things are going the right way.

Of course I know that I can play better and I have a couple more gears. That excites me, actually, motivates me to work and get myself in that maximum speed hopefully for the next match and see where it takes me.

Q. You're back into the business end of this tournament, into the quarterfinals. How much do you take what you've experienced in the past here and the mental approaches you have had to this part of the tournament and try to learn from that? Or is there any sort of switching or changing your approach to these next one, two, hopefully three matches for you?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, there is nothing particular majorly that I'm going to switch or change comparing to the previous years in terms of preparations. It's more or less the same.

Well, of course this year we have a particular situation because of the weather, so going to try to get as much rest as possible and not get distracted by too many things outside.

Q. Yesterday there were moments that it wasn't going easy, but you looked up. That was a nice moment. You asked Him for help. What did you ask Him?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: It's private. It's private. (Smiling.)

Q. A couple of the players yesterday were not happy to be on the court. Bautista was just telling us that in a way the tournament pushed for you guys to play two hours. Do you think that the players should have more say if both players on the court feel it's dangerous for them to be on the court? Should they have more power over the decision?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: It's a very delicate subject. You know, it really depends on various things and conditions that you're kind of facing as a player or as a tournament organizer, to take in consideration many different things from different perspectives.

But priority should always be the health of the players, no doubt. I have had situations before, plenty of situations before where I thought that the courts were not good enough, you know, for us to perform at such a high level because it was quite dangerous on the edge to twist your ankle or, God forbid, something else.

So I understand, you know, the frustrations that some players are going through. I go through the same, but, you know, sometimes you just have to deal with it. You just have to deal with it and accept whatever the common decision is from everybody, everybody around. Of course sometimes, you know, the tournament referees and the grounds people, they are trying to do their best to evaluate the condition of the court. Sometimes it does appear that maybe they don't because they don't play, they don't maybe to full extent understand what you, you know, go through with your movement and why is it so dangerous, you know.

So that's why, for me, it's one way funny and unacceptable as well at the same time to have a chair umpire come in in elegant shoes and try to slide and check whether or not the lines are slippery. It's gonna be slippery anyway in those shoes.

I think it's important at least what they can do is wear tennis shoes and check the conditions. All these small details can actually help a lot in the judgment of the actual court.

Q. You played with Fabrice Santoro, with the ball kid, how do those ideas come into your mind?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, as soon as I finish the match, I start to think what I'm going to do for the next -- no, I'm kidding. It just comes naturally. You know, comes naturally. I like to do things with kids, especially. I didn't know that Fabrice Santoro was dressed like that. He was obviously well prepared in case it rains. We just had a little joke about it, I think. You know, it cannot hurt. Joke cannot hurt anybody, and it's good to bring a little bit of positive energy in these gray days.

Q. Following up on the condition question, have you ever played a match where you felt compelled to compete when you didn't really think it was safe to do so? Do you think a player has a right to refuse to play if the referee or the supervisor says it's okay to play?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I was more than one time in these particular situations where I felt that was, as I said, the conditions were not going in the favor of the player and it was too dangerous. But sometimes the other player would feel the same and then we would stop the match. But if the other player doesn't feel the same for various reasons, maybe just feels different or he's in the lead or he feels better, just different reasons come to matter, but the end of the day, it's supposed to be the decision of chair umpire and the supervisor and tournament referee, they all come and discuss that between themselves and us, you know.

But again, it's hard to say. I think it should be a decision of a group of people, you know, everybody. It shouldn't be just players saying, Okay, I'm not going to play and I go out from the court.

It's not fair I think towards also the crowd and everything if the other player doesn't feel the same. So that's why it's always a conflict of interest and it's important that you have some neutral sides that is there to kind of try to find a mutual understanding and solution that is the best for everybody.

Q. Just to be clear, if it would be Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, so quarters on Thursday, semis on Friday, day off, final on Sunday, would you have a problem with that? And what kind of a challenge would that be physically?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: That's an ideal scenario right there. Let's see, first of all, whether or not I can win my quarterfinals and put myself in a position to play semis and maybe final. That's No. 1.

And No. 2 is whether we're going to have rain or not. It just really depends.

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