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January 1, 2017

Novak Djokovic

Doha, Qatar

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Happy New Year. Can I just ask you quickly two things. First of all, following what happened at the end of second half of the season last year, how are you feeling now and your state of mind going into the beginning and the rest of 2017? Also, your scheduled I think to play in just four tournaments in the beginning of the year. Is there any reason for the fact that you've only got just the four? Doha, Australian Open, Indian Wells, and Miami, but there is quite a big gap. Is there any reason for this?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, first of all, Happy New Year to you and everybody here. It's not strange to start off the year, first day of the year, doing press or playing tennis, start off working in our beautiful office outdoors. It has been a great 2016 for me.

First six months of the year results-wise were really good. The second six months were up and down and I was not meeting the standard of the results that I kind of set for myself in the last couple of years.

I was aware of that, but, again, when I look back on the last six months of the year, I'm happy that I've been through that experience because it has definitely served as a great incentive for what's coming up.

It has allowed me to reflect on all the years that I've had previously. I was crowned of course with Roland Garros title that was so much anticipated and probably took a lot out of me emotionally as much as it gave me.

Of course would like to congratulate Andy for reaching No. 1, crowning his season again, because he has played some tremendous tennis, especially in the last three, four months. He definitely deserves to be there.

Then we had now five, six weeks of off-season. Not rest, because in the five, six weeks you have to put in the rest together with preparations. Ideally for the amount of time that we spend on the tour, I would personally like to have it a bit longer, an extended off-season.

But it is as it is. Sometimes I've had even shorter off-seasons. But nevertheless, I did take some time off with family. I didn't travel much. I wanted to stay home and stay in one place where I can recharge my batteries. I just feel that I went to my home base.

With all the lifestyle of tennis player and all the traveling, sometimes you lose coordinates. You are all over the place. So it's great to actually be in one place for certain amount of weeks. That allows you to unpack your things and mentally just relax and stay put.

From that perspective you're able to observe things much differently. That allowed me, this off-season allowed me to really look back at what I've been through in my entire career, but especially in the last 12, 15 months, and to think about what is the next step and how I want to keep going.

In terms of scheduling, you know, I haven't changed my schedule much. I did not commit to the week before Indian Wells, which is usually Dubai that I played, because I did not know how I'm going to feel after Doha, Australia, you know, and potentially Davis Cup.

So I don't know how this is going to go, how that's going to affect me physically, emotionally, mentally. So depending on that period, I will decide whether or not I will play that week. That is the only week that was left out of the let's say unusual schedule that I've had in last five, six years.

So that is all.

Q. How much does coming to Doha help you prepare for Australian Open?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Now it's the third year in a row I'm in Doha, and really pleased to start off the year in this tournament that now traditionally for some time has been voted the best in its integrity.

And deservedly so, because they have been really trying to make sure that every player is feeling like at home. You know, the facilities are great. The hotel, very high-quality standard. You have the beach. You can bring your families in and have a nice balance between the family time. The site is very close. You have plenty of courts to practice. The matches are starting late in the day, which allows us to avoid the heat and all these things.

So they're really doing their job very well. You can see every single year you get at least couple top players from Top 5 of the world. You have at least four, five players from top 10. That says enough about what I personally, and we all as players, feel about this tournament. It's a great way to start off the season and have kind of a leadup to Australian Open.

Q. Going back to the first answer, you said you looked at the experience of last year. Is there one particular reason you can attribute for the falloff in the second half of 2016? Also, this is probably very stupid question. I'm sure that means you really retain your hunger, I take it, for the challenges this year and further on?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yes. First of all, I don't see the six months, second six months of 2016 as a failure or anything like that. It's not in my mindset, I guess, in my philosophy of life to observe things in this way. That I didn't succeed; that I failed; that I've fallen or something like that.

I just feel like every experience is a blessing one way or another. Of course, I personally, as everybody else, would like to win every tennis match that I play on. Without a doubt when I'm on the court there is no other thing than to win that tennis match.

But, you know, sport is as it is and you can't always win. You can't always expect yourself to be victorious.

I felt like the second six months of the year were very valuable, because I was always saying that you can learn a lot more from your lost tennis matches. Then you can really sit down, dig deep, and really figure out what are the things that you can do better.

So that's how I felt. That's what I've been through in the last five, six months of the year, of 2016. You know, I definitely don't see it as an unsuccessful year. I don't see it as a crisis. I don't see it as any of that.

I actually see it as a great, I would say incentive, challenge, experience that has helped me to rise and hopefully get even stronger, get even better, and keep going.

In the end of the day, it's my choice to play this sport. It's my choice to be out there. As you have mentioned the term "stay hungry" and really want to push more, but hungry in a way to really see and to feel and to understand how far I can go, what are my capabilities.

Because I don't believe in limits in life, you know, in general. I like to keep pushing forward as long as I have the drive, which of course comes from the love and passion for this sport.

That's I guess the whole point of it.

Q. Now coming here three years, what can you say about here and about the atmosphere in general? Are you aware they won the best tournament in 2015?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I've just praised the tournament, so I don't want to repeat my words. I just want to add that I'm very pleased to see that the attendance is growing every year. There are more people coming to watch the tennis.

At the end of the day this tournament was organized for the first time in 1993, so it has already a long culture and tradition of tennis.

Doha is a city, Qatar is a country that and has already nurtured the tennis, I would say, passion and understanding and love for this sport.

And people that come to the stands, it's very international crowd. They already know tennis. They're knowledgeable about the sport. It's definitely a lot of fun and a joy to perform in front of such crowd.

The stadium is fantastic. The venue is great. As I said, many courts. We have even hospital facilities if they are needed as well that are some of the best sports medical facilities I've seen in my life.

This country in general invests a lot in the sport. They see sport as one of the most important, greatest values in life, and that's how they teach their children to grow up, which that's great.

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