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June 26, 2016

Novak Djokovic

London, England

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. How do you change your mindset as the reigning champion of the French Open as compared to last year where you had to work your way into this tournament?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I'm always excited to be back in Wimbledon. It's been a tournament that I always dreamt of winning. Every time I come back here, even though of course each year is different, I kind of relive those memories from the childhood days when I was really imagining myself being part of this wonderful event and hopefully winning it one day.
Even though I've been, you know, very blessed to achieve this childhood dream and win this tournament three times, I still feel that kind of excitement as I'm coming in for the first time.
Of course, situation this year is quite different from previous years because I'm coming in with a Roland Garros title for the first time. That gives me, obviously, a lot of confidence prior to this event.

Q. How was the preparation for this Wimbledon? You didn't play any grass event. You had just one exhibition match at Boodles. Do you feel prepared?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: It's been many years that I haven't played any lead‑up event to Wimbledon. That's due to the very busy clay court schedule, especially the first six months of the year where I'm very thankful to get as many matches under my belt as possible.
But because up to just two years ago, the schedule was such that you had to literally make a transition from clay courts to grass courts in two days, I felt a bit too much. Now at least you have a week between where that gives you a bit more time to rest, adjust to the grass courts, and eventually play a lead‑up event.
I decided not to because winning Roland Garros was obviously one of the most memorable and beautiful moments of my career. Also it took a lot out of me. I thought that it's more important for me to just rejuvenate and rest a little bit from tennis and then come back preparing for Wimbledon.
So it's not something I'm doing for the first time, playing only grass court event of the year here in Wimbledon. I've played a match in Boodles. I've played a lot of points in the practice sessions these four or five days, trying to be on the grass as much as I can. Thankfully the weather was allowing me to play each day on grass.
So I'm really keen on getting on the court. You obviously will not know exactly how you feel until you start to play.

Q. If you were on the other side of the net right now, facing Novak Djokovic, what would you see right now?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, it's impossible for me to answer that question honestly. I like that side of staying with myself. I don't want to go on the other side (smiling).

Q. What are your thoughts on what you present to any opponent at this particular moment?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I don't know exactly what goes through the mind of my opponent. Obviously that's a question for others.
But I can certainly say that I've been working hard to get that consistency, I think, for myself throughout the years on the tour, on all different kinds of surfaces, trying to better my game as my career went on. Trying to be dedicated to my own progress, my own improvement.
Obviously I'm at the peak of my career at the moment. It hopefully can still keep going. I see still lots of room for improvement, things that I can work on. That's something that encourages me. That's something that keeps me grounded in a way, gives me more reason to practice.

Q. With Britain's departure from the European Union, the pound has plummeted. It's almost inevitable that you will leave with hundreds of thousands of pounds less from this tournament. Do you feel any bitterness towards the British people?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: It's wonderful the way you presented that (laughter).
Well, as anybody else, I've been familiar with what's going on. I'm just curious to see what the future brings for Britain and for European Union.
But I'm not competent more to talk about it. I'm not in a position to more profoundly discuss this matter.
I don't feel any bitterness at all. I just feel grateful to be able to compete at such a high level and compete at one of the biggest tournaments in the world. That's all I can say.

Q. What do you know about your opponent tomorrow? Does it make a difference playing a British player here?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: It does. It certainly does. I think I've never faced Ward before. Every time you face an opponent for the first time, it's always important to start off well and not allow your opponent to take his chances and opportunities.
It's going to be the first match on the untouched grass. That's probably one of the most special tennis matches that you get to experience as a professional tennis player.
I'm looking forward to that. Obviously I know that he doesn't have much to lose. The Centre Court is one of the cradles of our sport, will be hopefully packed, and we can enjoy some great match.

Q. Do you feel pressure when you come into a Grand Slam? Do you need to feel that? At this point with all the ones you've won, winning four in a row, that's not part of it?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, it's always present. Pressure is part of what we do. It's inevitable to face this kind of sensation as a top player, being expected to do well and to go as far as last four at least in the tournament, or finals.
But, you know, the more you get to face this kind of pressures and emotions, the more you get used to them. The better you are in coping with it and handling it.
I'll try to use the experience that I've had, obviously, in the previous years, previous tournaments, to get myself in a positive state of mind, and to have a positive approach to this tournament.

Q. Yesterday we asked Nick Kyrgios who was the favorite here. He said it was a silly question; that of course it was you. Who do you think is the favorite?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, you always have the top players, the ones that were most dominant on the Grand Slams in the previous years that are always in contention of winning the trophy ‑ Andy Murray, Roger ‑ first of all, because of their rankings, their history of playing, playing well, and winning this tournament, especially Roger for so many times.
Then you have, I think, Milos Raonic, who has been playing very well. He has a big serve, which is an obvious advantage on this surface that is quickest we have in sports.
You know, Kyrgios is definitely one of the players that can go far.
I think it's pretty much an open field. But I think the beauty of all the Grand Slams and of this sport is that you always start from scratch and you always start from the same starting position as everybody else, fighting for the trophy equally as everybody else.

Q. On the face of it, you and Andy are going to be pretty busy over the next fortnight, over the course of next year. As the No.1 and No. 2 players in the world, you have just agreed to rejoin the Player Council. Obviously there are a lot of issues in tennis right now. What's your thinking?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Obviously, I've been very flattered and humbled to be elected by my colleagues. The way I see it is that, you know, I managed to gain trust from players, which is very important to me. I have been part of the Player Council for three years earlier in my career. I've been familiar with the way the system works.
Right now, being in a very privileged position, having the status that I have in the men's sport, it's quite different approach. I'm hoping I can contribute to the evolution and to the betterment of our sport in every aspect.
Obviously we are going to undergo many different subjects, many different tasks that need some thinking and some working to do.
But I'm not the only one. As you said, Andy is there. We have several other top players from both singles and doubles. We're all going to try to give our best to contribute in every way we can.

Q. There were some intimate moments filmed as you came in after your win here, the corridors, with your family, friends, coach. Can you tell me what memories you keep in your mind and do they help you out on the court in pressure moments?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, this is a corridor from the men's seeds locker room all the way to the entrance of the Centre Court, probably the most special corridor we have in sports. You do get to have that sense of belonging to history, something that is much larger than yourself.
Being just part of it and observing everything as you go along, as you approach one of the most important tennis stadiums and courts in the world, your excitement is growing, and tension, many different emotions.
I was fortunate to experience that more than few times. When you are walking towards the Centre Court prior to the finals, it's quite different than any other match, obviously.
Especially in the last two years, I can recall playing against Roger in the finals, thrilling finals both. Managing to win the trophy that I always dreamed of winning, sharing it obviously with my family, the team, the people closest in my life, it's truly a blessing.
Whenever I would come back, I would relive those memories. That would stick in my mind. So I'm trying to always be aware of it. That gives me even more motivation.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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