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September 2, 2016
New York, NY, USA
N. DJOKOVIC/M. Youzhny
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. You had perhaps a helpful rehab time, but you're not getting matches. Which is more important?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, depends at how you look at it. This particular situation I never had in my Grand Slam career. But considering the stage of the season, you know, the amount of matches I've played, what I've been through with my body, I think it's actually good to have some days off and then shorter matches from one side.
From the other side, sure, as you are approaching second week of the Grand Slam you want to have match play and you want to have time spent on the center court before you face one of the top players.
But, again, I'm not too concerned about my game itself. I've worked hard last couple days. Health-wise I feel much better than I did at the beginning of the tournament. You know, I'm confident that everything is going in the right direction.
Q. Is it a letdown emotionally to go out there? You're all fired up to play and then all of a sudden you stop.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: It's not great for neither players nor the fans pay tickets to come and watch. Spent 20 minutes on the court. Of course, it's not something you want considering, as well, the fact I haven't played last match at all.
But it is what it is. I got an extra hour of practice on the center court. They were kind enough to allow me to practice. Got to focus on positives.
Q. Do you remember any other situation, similar situation, to this? I remember one in Rome, which is not a slam, where you played Almagro. Then Stepanek, Federer...
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: It was not a Grand Slam. That's why I said, the Grand Slam career this never happened. I had very few. I remember one walkover that I had. It was quarters in French Open, Fognini.
But I haven't had this particular circumstance where I have walkover and then I spend six games on the court next match.
But it is what it is. I'll take it. I'm moving on and focusing on the next one.
Q. Were you able to practice normally the past couple of days?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yeah, the arm is doing very well. Everything, as I said, is going in the right direction. I feel significantly better now than I have just at the beginning of the tournament.
I'm looking forward to compete.
Q. He used some dropshots before he got hurt. You use them quite frequently in your own game. What is your feeling about that shot in general?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: It's good to have that kind of shot in the variety. Obviously it disrupts the certain pattern movements and takes the player out of his comfort zone, especially somebody that stands far behind the baseline.
It's a shot that is accurate in a different ways. Obviously sometimes I know that I don't have as much of a success rate on the points where I play dropshot, but in the big picture it's a tactical move as well to make the player thinking, What is the next shot? Kind of use the whole court.
Q. Were you ever taught not to use it on hard courts?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Not really. You know, I was encouraged mostly by my coaches throughout my career to use the angles, to use that variety. I think that helps, definitely, in big matches.
Q. Do you find it mentally tiring to dominate the tennis like you've done and to be always the man to chase?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I don't find it tiring. First of all, I really enjoy playing this sport. I have love and passion for it. In the end of the day, it's my choice to do that. I'm very grateful to have this opportunity to play it, and to have people around me that really put in a lot of effort and energy, sacrifice, for me to, you know, play tennis and keep following this kind of lifestyle.
I'm blessed. Not many people in the world that can say, you know, they have managed to achieve their dreams, do the job that they really enjoy doing, working, and be very successful in it.
I'm aware of that. That's what keeps me going, you know, that kind of initial emotion for the sport and for the game and for this lifestyle.
And, of course, I like competing. I like being out there and moving my own boundaries and seeing how far I can go. So as long as there is that kind of flair in me, I'll keep going.
Q. The US Open is the only Grand Slam that uses adults as ball people, not ballkids.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I noticed.
Q. There are some of them that have been there for years and years. Do you recognize some of their faces? Does it bring any sort of comfort to you having the same people on court?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: They are very efficient, I must say. They are doing their job extremely well. Sometimes, you know, the line umpires, the ballkids, they take the beating from the players. Sometimes, you know, when you're in the midst of the battle, things are going up or down, you get emotional on the court and they're the ones that are around you.
Sometimes you take it for granted, you know, the work that they're doing. I appreciate it very much. I think most of us tennis players, at the beginning of our careers, we were ballkids at some stage of our childhood. Maybe not on a Grand Slam. I was never on a Grand Slam, but on smaller tournaments in my city and in my country. So I know how that feels.
But, as you say, they are professionals here in US Open. I didn't really look at each one of them, but I see many adults. I don't know if all of them are adults, but they're doing their job very well. They are very rained and experienced.
Q. For one year and a half every tournament we went and you were playing, you were the strong favorite. This is probably the first tournament where we see that somebody says, Murray is the favorite because Djokovic has this shoulder problem, personal problems, this and that. When you read that, if you know about that, do you laugh at it? You don't care? What is your reaction? You say, It's better; I have less pressure?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: That's your job, to speculate and predict, to have the freedom to express your opinion about who can win or not.
In the end of the day I respect that, but I don't pay too much attention on that, to be honest. There were stages in my career where I was very much into it, following who says what. That affected my mind.
Not anymore. You evolve. You rely on yourself. In the end of the day, I know what are my capabilities and I know what I am able to do, what I'm able to achieve. If I play the right tennis, I can win against anybody in any surface.
That's where my primary and focus and attention goes to, you know, try to get myself in that optimal state of mind, body, spirit, and just perform the best that I can.
Q. You were just talking about competition. Why is it so compelling, so fascinating to us?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, as everybody else, you go through life and you evolve and you change. I've experienced that kind of evolution myself. Psychologically I perceive my tennis career and the purpose of playing tennis, life in general, differently five years ago than I do now.
I still have, as I mentioned before, that intrinsic satisfaction and passion when I play tennis, just when I hold the racquet in my hands. But, you know, over the years I had to find always ways of motivating myself.
To be honest, trophies are not enough, because that's something that -- that's not sustainable. Surely you're going to feel great if you're No. 1 and you win Grand Slam trophies. Part of my inspiration is related to that surely.
But on the other hand, as you grow older, as you play more tennis, you're on the tour at a high level, of course, you need to find new ways, find other meaning and purpose of why you're playing it.
So becoming a father, a husband, having my own family, a foundation, many different things that happen along the way, have influenced that kind of perception of, you know, being part of this sport.
I find tennis as a way of using this as a platform, I would say, to maybe convey or share certain messages, passions that I have, or values. In the end of the day, I'm in a privileged position. As any other top athlete, you have this responsibility. You have such a blessing to be there. You have so much power to make a change in a good or bad way or influence somebody in a good or bad way.
Yeah, maybe I'm deep into philosophy now, but you understand hopefully my answer.
Q. I don't know if you've been asked about the Laver Cup yet. Can you give your thoughts about it? Do you think it's going to take off and have international significance?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I hope so. I think it's a great idea. Well, discussing with my team about my participation, eventual participation in that competition next year. If it happens, I will be happy. If it doesn't happen, again, I will be happy, because tennis needs to move on, needs to evolve, needs to get new events, new ideas, innovative, I would say, approach from everybody involved in tennis.
I think Laver Cup is a model that is used already in golf. I think there is the Ryder Cup that has been an example for the Laver Cup, as I understood. It's great. Ryder Cup has been one of the most successful sports events throughout the history. Why not take that example and try to use it in our own sport? That's what they've done.
I applaud all the people for coming up that idea, pursuing it, because it's not easy to set up a big event. I think if it's done in the right way, which I see it is already, Roger and Rafa headlining the event with Borg and McEnroe. Those are huge names in the history books of tennis.
I'm sure it's going to get some worldwide exposure and significance.
Q. Is it in the right place in the schedule, though, late September, to have that event in the middle of the season?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Look, you know, schedule is another subject. You can always say there's no space or there's no right or wrong period.
But in the end of the day, schedule today is the same as it was so many decades ago. I was saying many times before, and I still strongly believe, that we really need to consider making some changes in the schedule, you know, working towards protecting and nurturing players' wellness, well-being, health, and enduring careers.
You see more and more injuries. This is due to a very physical sport, a very demanding schedule, more events, more significance of course. More prize money, more everything. Players play more.
But in the end of the day, in the bigger picture, it's not that great. You don't want to see short careers, right? You want to see longer careers.
But this is maybe not a subject for this moment. I still think we all need to sit down and rethink about the future of the schedule of our sport.
Q. Do you tune out what's happening amongst your competitors in the draw during this tournament? Do you focus exclusively on what you're doing?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Surely I follow of course. Once you're in a Grand Slam you watch a match or two when you're back in your hotel room. Mostly when I'm training, days off, or when I'm here the day of my match, tennis is everywhere, on each TV. Not only in the tennis facility, but all over the city. You can feel that kind of vibe.
You are following what your main competitors especially are doing, how they're playing. Of course, everybody does that.
But my main focus, of course, is on me only and my next opponent.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports