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May 26, 2017

Novak Djokovic

Paris, France

THE MODERATOR: Questions in English, please.

Q. Obviously you have come here, new clothing, new coach. Andre was giving you advice in your practice session. How does it feel?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, yeah, it feels like a new chapter. It feels like the change that I have experienced in the last, you know, three, four weeks, separating with the team that I was with for ten years, and now kind of creating a new team, creating a new vibe, it feels exciting.

You know, it feels right at this moment because I was, in the last, you know, five, six months, you know, struggling a little bit on the court and trying to redefine myself, you know, and rediscover, you know, what kind of approach is the right one.

I just felt, and my former team, we all felt we needed, you know, a change, we need to go our separate ways. So right now I feel much better on the court.

I have played a great week in Rome. I was, you know, talking with Andre for couple weeks during Madrid and Rome on the phone, kind of preparing for the matches, analyzing matches. That allowed both of us to get to know each other and kind of, for him especially, to get closer to my thinking and my mindset about tennis, about life in general, and so forth. I was very glad that he accepted to come in person in Paris and spend some time.

Yesterday was obviously the first day, and we had two practice sessions, and then we had a very, very long conversations in the evening. Even though it was the first day, it felt like we know each other for a very long time. We clicked and connected very fast.

He's someone that inspires me a lot. That's one of the things I felt like I needed is new inspiration, someone that knows exactly what I'm going through, you know, on the court, off the court. He has been through all these transitions, he has been in my shoes before playing Grand Slams, being the best in the world, and facing all the challenges that are present in the tennis, in the professional sport.

So we can relate to each other in many different ways from many different sides. That's why, you know, I'm very excited for him being here, because it's a great opportunity for me to learn. It's a great opportunity for me to grow together with him and to experience, you know, whatever is ahead of us.

Of course we're both hoping that this can bring success on the court, but finally, it's, you know, an opportunity for us to, as I said, to really grow and evolve, first of all as human beings and as tennis players, and that's all I'm focused on at the moment, right?

Also, having him on a Grand Slam is different, because these are the biggest tournaments we have in sport. So it brings a new dimension of motivation and also excitement to me and to my team. So we all are looking forward to the next couple of weeks.

Q. What did you say to Agassi to convince him? Would you like your collaboration to go on after Roland Garros?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: That's a question for him, to be honest, because I haven't said anything special to Andre to convince him to work with me.

The relationship, let's say, started when I asked for his contact number to thank him for talking always very nicely about me in the press whenever someone would ask him, he would only have positives to say about me, my game. Even, before when I was No. 1 and playing very successfully, winning trophies. And in the latest period where I was not as successful and where I received a lot of criticism from many sides, he was one of the people, few people that was actually standing on my side and supporting me.

So I appreciate that very much, and I wanted to thank him in person, and over the phone. It turned out to be a long conversation, and that's where it all started.

At that time, at that point, we both didn't think about this evolving to become a professional relationship, but finally, after few weeks, it did. It was completely up to him.

I, at the same time as I was mentioning before in Madrid and Rome, I was not rushing the process of getting a new coach or -- because I trust in myself. I believe in my own abilities. I have been around long enough to know how to play tennis. So I gave it some time, and I was patient enough. And then good things happen when you allow life to arrange things for you. And Andre is a perfect fit for me now in every aspect. And, as I said, I'm trying to absorb as much of his wisdom and knowledge and experience that he tries to share with me.

Q. There will be more questions about new coach, but could you tell us what is your relationship with your former coach, Marian? Because you spent a lot of time together, obviously.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: The relationship, personal relationship stayed the same. It hasn't changed. Marian is family to me, and he will always be.

So as I have said before, I mean, the professional ending or separation of, you know, professional relationship is not going to affect how we feel towards each other. And all this beautiful memories we shared with each other on and off the court cannot be forgotten just like that. So we are still very close.

Q. You are the defending champion here for the first time after having chased that title for years. How does it feel coming back on these courts?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I think the experience of being in a role of defending champion of a Grand Slam before is helping me to approach also this year's Roland Garros, not in any particular different way. So I'm not trying to add any unnecessary pressure to, you know, to feel that I have to defend something. I just don't have that kind of mindset.

At the beginning of my career, in the first couple of Grand Slams when I was winning, I felt that I wasn't yet maybe mature and strong enough mentally. Then I allowed different, you know, distractions and pressures to come into my mind and that, you know, affected my performances.

But over the years, I felt like I have, you know, I learned how to deal with that.

Obviously Roland Garros 2016 title was one of the highlights of my life, my career, and one of the most special moments that I have, you know, experienced on the court.

So coming back to Roland Garros as defending champion, of course, it is different, but not to the extent where it will affect me in the way I prepare myself or the way I approach tournament or the way I perform.

I look at this tournament really as any other big tournament. My approach, my mindset, will be pretty much the same. Of course, with the new dose of inspiration from Andre's presence and so forth and all the changes that I experience, but I try to always put myself in the same line with anybody else, because essentially, that's the fact. You start a tournament from the same line with everyone else. You fight for the trophy, as everybody does. That's the way I approach it.

Q. Can you look a little bit at some of the other players, in particular maybe Rafa, considering the clay court season he had, and maybe Andy?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I mean, Rafa, next to Roger, has been the best player so far this year in terms of results. I mean, their level of tennis that they have performed is quite fantastic. And Rafa, again, playing on his favorite surface won three tournaments in a row, and playing confidently and, you know, much better than he was playing actually last year.

So, you know, I definitely see him as, you know, probably No. 1 favorite for this title.

And then you have, you know, Andy. Andy obviously, as I have had in the first four, five months, had a lot of ups and downs with the results. He's still trying to find his right game and consistency.

Stan, as well, had a great start of the season, and then he struggled a bit. But, you know, all these guys have won Grand Slams before. You know, Stan is a big match player. He always plays his very best when he needs it the most. Andy, as well. Rafa. Dominic Thiem is now someone who alongside with Zverev, who is in great form and who can definitely go far in the tournament.

So it's definitely an interesting edition of 2017 Roland Garros and we will see. It's a long two weeks. We all hope that we can go to the very last day, playing best of five on clay that is, most demanding surface, is quite different. That's why, you know, you kind of have to dedicate a lot of time to preparing yourself, recovering, and having the right amount of energy supply in order to achieve your goal and get to the trophy.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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