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June 2, 2017

Novak Djokovic

Paris, France

N. DJOKOVIC/D. Schwartzman

5-7, 6-3, 3-6, 6-1, 6-1

THE MODERATOR: Questions in English.

Q. Diego just finished the conference. He remembered the match in New York. Today no little man in tennis anymore. Huge match for you. For both, let's say.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, he definitely deserved the applause he got in the end of the match, because he was fighting, he was playing really well. He was the better player probably for first three sets. And then the fourth and fifth set went the way I hoped that the whole match can go.

So I'm glad that I have some positives, of course, to take from today's match. I was mentally still, you know, strong and as calm as I could be, even though I was two sets to one down I kept believing I could break his resistance. It was just too many unforced errors from myself.

The conditions were quite suitable to his style of the game. Very, very muddy, very slow, no bounce. You know, he could get a lot of balls back and he could play them very flat.

The other side, me, I started the match well, but then I lost the first set and then muscled out the second one in my favor. The third one, again, played a couple lousy games, and he deserved to win it in the end with some great shots.

So, I mean, all in all, it was good to be part of five-set match. You know, I didn't play too many of the five-setters the last couple of years. I see a lot of good things in it. I think it will put me in a good place mentally, as well.

Physically I don't think it's going to affect me at all. You know, I have had many situations like this before where just, you know, having a day to recover is more than enough.

So I think mentally it will affect me in a positive way. Hopefully I'll be able to continue, I guess, playing better and better as the tournament progresses.

Q. You had the same kind of match last year. Then after that match everything clicked. Do you think this could help you finding more answers in your game?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Of course. You know, sometimes you need to be challenged in order for certain things to surface, which maybe are not surfacing if you're winning comfortably. That's gonna happen more as I go deeper in the tournament, because the matches and the opponents are going to get tougher and gonna play against players who are higher ranked and better quality so I'm going to get challenged more.

As I said, playing a five-setter is, at this stage, is good, you know. I enjoyed playing, really, even though of course at times I was not playing my best, especially for first three sets, but, you know, fourth and fifth set went completely my way. Done things in the right way. Continued on, you know, playing with conviction.

It's just that what I changed is I kind of reduced the risk, because I was going for my shots too much, I think, in the first couple of sets. You know, handing him too many presents.

Then, of course, giving him wings to play his best. You know, I have had, I think, percentage-wise many of the Grand Slam wins that I have had, if I look at those tournaments, probably 70, 80% of the Grand Slam wins I have had, I had at least one tough four-setter or five-setter maybe early in the tournament, and it's good, because it allows you to kind of enter the tournament, in a way, mentally, as well, and just get challenged early so you can break through.

Q. I know we are all a bit obsessed with Andre, but is it right he came in at 3-4, you leading 4-3, second set? If so, did you miss him and was that all connected with the fact you then broke?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yeah, seeing him on the screen. I was focused on the screen and I saw obviously people reacting when he arrived. He was not supposed to be here today, because we have finished yesterday with our in-person collaboration here in Paris, because he had many different things that he was supposed to do and that he's doing that he managed to reschedule certain things and show up today, which was not planned. I appreciate that. I respect that very much that he managed to do things and move his commitments around so he could come and watch.

You know, of course I liked seeing him, and I like to see him in the box. He, for sure, is showing good spirits and showing his commitment as much as he can to me and to the team. You know, of course having him around always gives you more inspiration.

Q. I have another Andre question. He did an interview with Boris Becker today, and he says he doesn't really want anything and doesn't need anything, but helping you is helping the game, so he's doing it on his own time and his own dime. Did it surprise you he was willing to help you when he could? But he doesn't expect any payment or anything for that?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I'm not going to get into that, but everything that he said is completely true, so it's completely his decision. You know, how much he wants to get involved, how often he wants to be in person there with me, you know, this eight days that we spent together practicing and of course first couple rounds him being, watching the matches, was phenomenal. I mean, I couldn't ask for more.

Of course, I don't have any expectations. I'm just trying to enjoy every possible moment that I have next to him when he's here with me and when he's not of course we are in daily contact, you know, calling each other, texting and so forth.

So even at times when he's not there, he's present in my life and in my career.

You know, as far as I'm concerned, I mean, I hope that that's gonna stay for a long time that we can create something that is going to go long term.

In terms of some plans for the future, we don't have anything set in stone. We don't say he's going to be here until this time or that time. You know, he's going to try his best to be in the biggest tournaments with me, of course, and as much as his family time allows and all the commitments that he has. Of course we both agree that I'm going to need someone also day-to-day basis that can work with him, but he's the man.

Q. My question is about the man, too. The people who know Andre talk about what a special mind he has. Very sharp, unpredictable, sees the big picture. Talk about his mind, what it's been like working with him and is that a special quality of his? Secondly, did he say today that, oh, I don't know, it's okay not to be perfect?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yeah, we had a great chat after the match. We focused on positives and, you know, we analyzed of course things that could have been better.

But generally, you know, he's someone with a very positive mindset about tennis and life in general, he likes to simplify things. He likes to just focus on the right, I guess, frames and just get the best out of it. You know, he likes to engage 100% in whatever he likes to do, and he wants to do.

In the conversation you get that sense from him that he knows exactly what he's talking about. He's trying to maybe sometimes when you start talking about technical stuff or life in general, he gets complicated, and one of his virtues is the ability to actually simplify that and make it very clear.

You know, he didn't seem to me very unpredictable, but he seemed very bright and he is very bright, and very genuine, very good soul, good heart, cares about the game, cares about others and always tries to be kind to others.

He possesses those values that I stand for, as well. That's where we relate to each other very much.

Q. Good thing for you that they all ask about Agassi. Nobody asks you about you. I'd like to know --
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: But that is why you are here (smiling).

Q. I'd like to know if when you have the positive attitude, good that I played five sets, but wouldn't you prefer to be Rafa Nadal who wins 6-Love, 6-1, 6-Love and one hour and 30 minutes? Wouldn't you change?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I really don't understand that question.

Q. Try. Should I ask Agassi?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: You should ask Nadal. I think you were a bit late for his press conference. It was four hours ago. I am who I am, and I'm happy with that.

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