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May 18, 2017

Novak Djokovic

Rome, Italy

N. DJOKOVIC/R. Bautista Agut

6-4, 6-4

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. You think you're getting back to the level that you reached when you won the French Open last year? Is the shock therapy that you spoke of working?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I don't know what you mean by shock therapy.

Q. When you said you and your team parted, looking at that as sort of shock therapy.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, it was, you know, for sure a shock to all of us since we worked for ten years together.

So in a way it was kind of expected, because we kind of talked about it already for months. And as I have spoken about it before, you know, fitness coach and tennis coach were already feeling a bit exhausted and tired from this kind of lifestyle and tempo of traveling. It's very demanding, you know, on these people that have been in this business for 30, 40 years.

But, you know, look, we all felt mutually it was the right thing to do. We moved on. Whether or not that's a turning point in my career, I don't know. I don't really -- I don't think about that affecting positively or negatively whatever is coming after that. I just think about whatever I need to do with myself on the court to get better, to be on the desired level of tennis.

And I'm getting closer. I feel like today's match was one of the better ones that I have played on clay court season but also overall last couple of months.

So it came in the right time, of course, because, you know, we are getting to now the final 8 of this tournament and also getting closer to Roland Garros.

So of course all the players are aiming to raise their level of tennis as we're approaching Paris, as well, of course, but especially here where we are at the moment at one of the best tournaments and biggest in the world.

So of course I would love to be able to continue playing on that level and even higher as the tournament progresses.

Q. A very solid performance today against a very stubborn competitor, Agut. That shows that you're pretty much in good form again.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, as I said, you know, I have been doing really my best to, you know, optimize my game to get it to the highest possible level at the moment.

I'm aware that the previous months haven't gone really the way that I wished for in terms of results, but again, it is what it is. I had to deal with the situation. I believe that the process had to happen, and right now, as days are passing by, I feel more confident on the court, more confident hitting the ball.

I like Rome. I like conditions here. I have had plenty of success in the past in this tournament.

So I think it all affects my overall feeling in this tournament, and, well, now quarterfinals, the matches are going to get tougher only.

But I'm ready, you know. I'm ready for the challenge, and I'm ready to see where my game is at. Hopefully can go in the right direction, and we'll see how far I can go here.

Q. We tend to always put a lot of importance on the preparation and before a French Open or any Grand Slam like the tournament before to judge who is in shape or not. But we saw Wawrinka in the past, and Andy seems a little bit touchy those days. You have struggled. Do we read too much into those tournaments? Is it possible to completely switch the momentum for a Grand Slam?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, you know, as you mentioned, you know, there is no rule in terms of, you know, a player not playing well or playing well prior to Roland Garros and then kind of predicting his results. Obviously, in most of the cases, if certain player is leading up to Grand Slam playing well and winning big tournaments, logically you're gonna think that he's gonna do well in the Grand Slam, as well, which happens, especially with Rafa, you know, on clay.

But we have seen in the past, and as you mentioned with Stan that hasn't been very consistent with his results maybe in the big events, and then he comes out in a Grand Slam and plays amazing tennis. Because Grand Slam awakens that kind of, you know, motivation inside of you. Many players do get that sense of importance of the tournament as they accept it in that way, of course partly even the weeks before with their thoughts and Paris, Roland Garros, for example, now, so they are aiming to, I guess, reach their peak right there.

And it's best of five and played every second day, which allows you to have more time to rest and recover, whereas in these tournaments, okay, yeah, it's best of three, but you play day after day after day, and it's very intense for the body and for the mind and so forth.

I guess taking all that into account, it's kind of normal to expect that, you know, some top players come out and play their best when it's most needed, which is Grand Slams. So I wouldn't be surprised to see Wawrinka or Murray playing really high level in Paris, because I guess they are aiming to do that.

Q. I'd like to know what happened when you split up with your former team. Boris Becker, you had him only for few years. But Marian, I like him very much, since a long time, was with you so many, many, many years. How did he react? It's different. It's not like Becker. He's been almost more a friend than a coach. Are you still in great relationship? Do you see and talk to him or have you completely broken...
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: No, as I have mentioned before, I don't know if you read the statements, but we are still friends and this kind of private relationship that we have established and nurtured for so many years will not be affected by professional relationship and status.

Of course we all have very close relationship to each other. We speak, you know, and we text and they follow the matches, you know. So because we have shared so many beautiful moments in our lifetimes on the tour but also off the tour, and we have created this very intimate, very family-like relationship, this cannot be broken just because professionally we are not working together.

So as I have said, I don't know if you heard that, as well, it was mutual decision. It was not me only saying, I don't want to work with you. It was mutual. It was also from their side. And especially Gebhardt, which is my fitness coach, and Marian, you know because you have been around for so many years, he's been a player and then a coach right away after his career for so many years, so it's tiring. It's tiring, you know.

They need to have also some time at home, you know, and dedicate themselves to something else, which is completely normal. So for all of us it was in good spirits, separation, and just turning the next page in our lives professionally.

Q. I saw a video that you play with your son on court. What kind of inspiration your son brings to you?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, he brings everything that is positive out there in the world to me. Anybody who is a parent understands that kind of feeling of complete unconditional love, you know, that you get to feel for your child.

So of course now he's a boy growing up, starts to, you know, construct the phrases, sentences, starts to talk to you, understands you, responds to you, interested in playing different sports, games, activities. It's a lot of fun every single day.

I was so happy to have him and my wife here, so I brought him over. It was actually the first time ever since he was born that I brought him to the tennis during the tournament. It was interesting to see his reaction. But he was fine, you know.

He was comfortable, considering it was first time. It was a lot of people. He played a little bit of tennis. We were playing with the water, watering the court. He liked that, because it was very warm.

He went around the club. There was a lot of nice kids' activities. It was a good day, you know. He's still quite young, I would say, to have him daily here. You know, it's just too many people. But he's gonna come more often.

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