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May 10, 2017
N. DJOKOVIC/N. Almagro
6-1, 4-6, 7-5
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. Love-3 in the third, you came back. Talk about your mentality through the final set and how you came out of it.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, this was the fourth match on the clay court season for me this year, and all of them went 7-5 or 6-4 in the third set. Every match more or less that I've played was quite close, dramatic as well. I guess I'm supposed to be tested in every match on clay.
From positive side, from that perspective, is good for psychological aspects and mental strength and getting confidence back.
Obviously when you're not winning too many matches, you have to build the confidence level. So to win the matches like this definitely helps confidence.
I thought that for almost two sets I've played really well. Had 15-40 two times in the second set to finish off the match in straight sets. But, you know, I didn't use my opportunities.
He served well. Then he started to swing through the ball. Four games in a row he played really, really well.
It's tough to play Nico on any surface. Especially here where it's altitude, it played quicker a little bit. He loves playing on clay. He was obviously motivated. He has a lot of strength in his shots, a lot of precision. He can, from both corners, hit equally well.
If he doesn't make many mistakes, he can really beat anyone. I could feel his very high quality, especially the end of the second set and the beginning of the third.
But I hung in there and I knew that eventually I'm going to get my chances and going to get some looks on the second serves. When they're presented, you know, I was ready to use them, which I did.
Yeah, it was very challenging conditions, as well. Towards the end, a lot of wind. But all in all, a real test for the first match here.
Q. Overall when you look at this match, does it leave you with more questions or with more answers going ahead into the next matches?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Look, you know, I'm still finding my way to that consistency level and quality of tennis that I'm looking for. I'm aware that I'm not playing at my best, but I'm definitely believing in myself and the process. Eventually the game will come together.
I can take a lot of positives from today, as I say, for almost two sets. I was playing really well, consistently, taking my chances, returning a lot of balls back, serving precisely. I wasn't making too many, you know, errors on the court. Then I had that four-game period which wasn't that great. But I managed to recover.
I try to take positives out of it. I know I can identify things that haven't gone the way I wanted them in the game. But, you know, it's normal to expect that sometimes you have those ups and downs. I'm going to try to reduce them as much as I can.
Four consecutive games lost in this level should not happen because otherwise, you know, you're going to lose the match. I was very close to lose it, as well. He was up 3-Love.
But as I've said, you know, I'm happy with the way I handled the pressure in those moments, just stayed with him, made him play always extra shot. I did my work in the end of the match. So I'm looking forward to the next round.
Q. Roger is announcing today if he comes to Roland Garros or not. If he does come to Paris, do you think it's possible to be a threat there without having played any official match on the surface before?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I'm always saying that I don't expect anything else from Roger but the highest level of performance, whenever, wherever.
I don't think it can shake him that much or disturb him that he didn't have too many matches. Obviously, he knows his body best. He knows his game best. I'm sure he knows what he's doing. This year he's the best player so far. He's been playing unbelievable.
Well, he decided not to play anything on clay courts before Roland Garros. I mean, he has the luxury of choosing what he wants to play. I mean, what he did this year is phenomenal, absolutely.
It doesn't really make a difference, I think. Wherever he shows up, you know he's going to come out ready to perform his best.
Q. I know it's not easy for you, but could you answer a question in Spanish, your feelings after this tough match against Nico Almagro.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: (Translated from Spanish) I'm very happy for being able to win this match because it was a very complicated match against a player that's very strong. He has a lot of qualities. He plays very well on clay courts.
I can take a lot of positive things out of this match toward tomorrow's match. I hope to continue playing this way.
Q. In English, if you could.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Okay (smiling). With an English accent or...
Q. There's bound to be speculation until you appoint your new coach. There was a report in England actually the other day saying you were targeting Andre Agassi as your next coach, you've been in contact with him. Can you comment on that?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I mean, I understand that people are trying to speculate and trying to look into the possible coaches and create a list because I was saying I would like to have ideally someone who fits into the profile of a person that was kind of in my shoes before, that has been winning Grand Slams. There are not too many of those kind of champions in the history of the sport. I guess it's normal that people start coming up with names.
I can't talk more than that. I'm going to think about who I want in my team. Right now I don't have yet anyone. But I think by French Open or after French Open, I already going to have someone.
Q. Here is a challenge for you. If you could do this with a Scottish accent for me.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Have to call Andy for that (smiling).
Q. You may see this is related to him. If you take your mind back to when you first became world No. 1, when you worked so hard to get there, now you have to protect your position, protect your points, how do you cope with that when you're doing it for the first time? What sort of a different mindset does that bring to approaching big tournaments?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, it just really depends I guess person to person how you approach that, how you perceive that.
For me, back in 2011 was the first time that I managed to accomplish one of my life and career dreams, to be No. 1, and win Wimbledon. Obviously that was a fairytale story coming down in two days, I managed to achieve both of those great goals.
I actually felt even more motivated after that to kind of keep going and try to make history, you know, get as many good results as possible, and maintain No. 1.
I mean, as I said, you know, there is no general terms or formula for every player. When you get there, everyone reacts differently. Obviously someone is just satisfied with that, just lets it go very quickly because he has managed to achieve, and he doesn't want more than that, which is completely fine.
There are some players that feel even more kind of responsible towards that role and more motivated to stay there and, as I said, make their name part of history book.
Obviously I have plenty of that motivation. I've been very fortunate to be No. 1 of this game for a long time. That's definitely one of the things that always inspires me, to keep going and work very hard.
Of course, I'm not the only one who wants that position. Andy right now is there - deservedly so. He's dealing with that fantastically. He's someone that is well-known around the tour for his working ethics. The hard work pays off. He's obviously a very experienced player.
You know, you have Rafa coming back now, playing on a very high level. Roger, as well. The other players, young players, that are coming up, they're very hungry.
You know, when you're at the top, you always feel like you're being chased, like someone wants to take away that spot from you, which is normal. That's how it works.
But I guess, you know, in my case I've used that kind of fact, kind of channeled that in the right emotion of motivating myself and finding that more necessary strength to stay committed, professional, and really get as far as I can.
So right now I'm not on that spot. I still feel, you know, motivated as ever to get back on it.
Q. You deserve today a little break for tonight. Are you going to the stadium to see Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I will not go unfortunately because I have a match tomorrow. If Almagro was the winner today, maybe the answer would be different. This is a priority now. I will focus on tennis at the moment.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports