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May 7, 2017

Novak Djokovic

Madrid, Spain

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. I guess a lot of us are very curious to talk about your big news. Can you walk us through how you got to that decision and how you feel about it now.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, it was not an easy decision, neither for my team nor for me. But we all felt like we needed a change. We all felt like we needed to kind of enter a new chapter.

It was a mutual decision. It was not only my decision. We gave it a last shot I think in the last couple of months. We talked about, you know, what I guess the future brings for us at the end of the last season.

We try to work things out another time, but we just needed to move on. It was all in good spirits. I cannot be grateful enough to them for the sacrifice that they have made and the professionalism, the commitment, the friendship.

We all shared so many beautiful moments together that it created a friendship, you know, family-like relationship that will never die. They will always stay there, regardless of our professional cooperation.

Q. With this team and especially Marian, you went through highs and also tough moments. Why is this one so different that you feel you needed to make these changes? Is it because you've won practically everything?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I've been with these three guys for almost 10 years basically. As I said, I've formed and nurtured a very special relationship with them that still will stay till the rest of our lives.

This separation in a professional terms will not affect that. We have made so many achievements together that we are all proud of and, as I said, the memories will stay there.

But it was just a time where, you know, we all felt like we had to move on. From their perspective, you know, it was obviously so many years of committing to this sport. Even before me, Marian was walking with Hrbaty and couple other players. He switched from a player to coach role very quickly. He was on the tour non-stop traveling for 30 years and more. So he got a bit tired of it. As well as Gebhard Gritsch, my fitness coach.

So from my side, it was just time to try something new. It's where I felt like I needed also some space and time to be kind of by myself and, you know, think things through.

Right now I'm at that stage where I just don't want to rush things. I'm completely confident in myself, and I believe in the process of change, that it's going to bring me some good things.

I'm going to take a little bit more time to think of the next person that will be there as a tennis coach. But, as I said, I don't want to rush into it because I don't think I'm incapable of being by myself, or with my brother, with my family now on the court. I completely feel comfortable with him and by myself.

When the right time comes and when the right person comes, I'll be more than happy to share that news with you guys.

Q. On your release, which was quite extensive, you said you came to this decision mutually after Monte-Carlo. Did you all sit down together? Given the incredible success that you've shared, can you maybe share with us, was it quite an emotional meeting? The physio, Milan, said you were like brothers almost.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yes, we are. Well, as you can imagine, it was. I'm not going to get too much into details. But of course it was emotional because we share wonderful relationship that we built throughout the years. All our families are very close. We are in touch on a daily basis more or less.

So, you know, even if we were talking about it, kind of assuming that that might come, it was still sort of an experience that you cannot ever be prepared for, especially because of the history of the relationship that we have.

It was very emotional, but it had to happen for all of us. We just accepted it in a very good way. As I said, it was all in good spirits. We move on, excited, all of us to see what the next chapter of our career and life brings.

Q. If you're able to pinpoint a few things that will be essential for whichever coach you want to bring in, what would they be, especially at this point in your career?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, to be honest, I'm still going through the process of thinking about what the next step will be in terms of finding that person.

I assume, you know, it's going to be someone that has been through similar experiences like I have, so... Not too many people in the past of tennis have managed to get to that stage and play at that level, so I'll see.

I'm thinking slowly and thoroughly about it. I don't want to take things with a rush.

Q. Can you talk us through what the preparation for this tournament was like without having your team of 10 years around, whether it changes any expectations, how you essentially prepared.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, it was different definitely. But in a way it was a chapter closed for me. I did not want to drag any kind of weight on the court after I've ended a relationship with them.

It was a nice feeling because in my mind I already decided. As I said, we finished up in a very good terms. Then I just focused on every day that follows. I spent a great eight, nine days training together with my brother, my physiotherapist that has been working with me since last October. So all fine. I'm not completely by myself. I have a great support of the family and management and my current team.

You know, I'm comfortable and excited and as motivated as ever, of course, to compete on a highest level and see where it takes me.

Q. Not so much in terms of a coach, but in terms of yourself, do you know what it is that you need inside to find that spark again? Or do you not know what you're looking for; you'll only know it when you find it?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, look, you know, I've played so many years on this level that I'm feeling comfortable on the tennis court regardless of these current changes. Generally, I mean, I haven't forgotten to hit the tennis ball. I've continued on more or less with the same kind of routine and approach that I've had over the years, you know, with certain changes.

I'm just excited to experience new things and to see, you know, what the next couple of years will look like for me.

But, as I said, I'm not getting myself too far ahead. I just want to be in the present moment because obviously this is something that I experience for the first time in my life.

This team has been there with me ever since I started a professional career. So it's been 10 fantastic successful years. Right now it's a transition sort of process that I'm embracing and I'm accepting. So I'm just trying to be in the moment.

Q. You told us that you are not alone here, you're with your brother. Is also Pepe Imaz working with you? Is he going to continue working with you?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yes, he's here. We've been working together for the last four, five years. He's still part of the team.

Q. For someone who has won everything, what kind of perspective do you have of the couple losses you've had this year? Are you able to put them in a certain framework or perspective?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I didn't really understand.

Q. The losses that you've had this year, what kind of perspective do you put them in?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, you know, of course when you start losing more matches, you start questioning your game, yourself, what you're doing wrong so you can rectify that and get better, turn the tables around.

Of course, I'm thinking about it. I'm analyzing my game. I'm trying to get as much as I thoroughly personally can do, and also input from the people that are close to me.

I'm constantly trying to improve and to get better. Obviously I've been very fortunate to experience the upwards direction of my career ever since I've started. This is now a different direction a little bit.

In the last six months, I haven't had too many of great results. That's why, you know, I've felt like I needed some changes and I needed to approach things maybe a little bit differently, which is completely fine.

It's just life always throws a new challenges as you. Instead of avoiding them and ducking them, I'm trying to confront them and trying to embrace them. I guess in the process, I'm trying to get better as a person and as a tennis player.

How long maybe this process is going to last before I get to the winning terms again, I don't know. I'm just hoping I will get there again. That's all I can say.

Q. Looking at how the likes of Andy and Roger and Rafa have ended last season and begun this season, do you feel you've maybe lost a little edge in your game, or whether these decisions you're taking now are thinking in terms of you've actually got to raise the bar a bit so you can keep one step ahead of them and the rest of the guys on the tour?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I mean, in this particular situation, I can't really, in terms of stopping with my team, compare myself to Roger, Andy and Rafa. They have their own team. They have their own approach. I can't really compare.

I don't think that this gives me an edge over them at all. I'm trying to focus and influence my own field of career, of my life, what I can do to get myself as best as I can be on the tennis court.

Surely the last six months, as I've said, haven't been great in terms of results on the court. I did experience many changes, especially with the recent one. So I'm trying to channel that and ground that in a best way. Then, you know, of course build a new chapter, build a new ways of hopefully making more history for myself and for the tennis.

But as I said, I don't know how quickly that can be realized. It just really depends. I also know that I'll not stay by myself without tennis coach for too long. But, again, I don't want to rush that.

I'm just really kind of in a transition now. I'm comfortable where I am at the moment because I know it's a right thing to do, it's a right place to stay. It was just meant to be for me this way.

But I'm sure difficult paths lead to beautiful destinations, so I'm sticking with that.

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