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June 26, 2017

Novak Djokovic

Eastbourne, England

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Welcome to the seaside.

Q. What do you make of it so far?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: It's a beautiful day today. First day that we see sun, actually. It's nice. Nice to see so many people coming out on the courts obviously. For me it's great to visit a new place, be part of a new event. I don't get to experience that too often.

We have more or less the same schedule each year over and over again, so it's great to be back, to be actually in Eastbourne for the first time. It's a small town, but being part of the combined event, there is a lot of matches, a lot of people coming out to watch and support the players.

You can feel the appreciation for the tennis that they have here. They love this event, and so for me it's obviously a pleasure to be here.

Q. Besides the new experience for you coming here, it's also a rare experience for you to be playing a grass court tournament the week before Wimbledon, first time in 11 years.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Seven years, I think. Last time was in Queen's 2010 that I have played before Wimbledon.

Q. Not the week before.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Excuse me. Excuse me.

Q. The week before was in 2006, I think.

Q. So why the change? That's a big...
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yeah, it is. But also, I haven't played since 2010 any leadup event to Wimbledon. I was fortunate to have lots of matches and lots of success in the first part of the year over the years, especially on the clay courts and always reaching the final stages of Roland Garros.

And because of the old schedule, we had a week less. Usually the Queen's and Halle tournaments were starting the week after Roland Garros, which was a bit challenging obviously coming from the slowest to the fastest surface in sport. It's a big shift, only few days.

But that's one of the reasons why I haven't participated over the years in any leadup events to Wimbledon. This year I knew I wanted to play one, but I thought Queen's and Halle would be too early for me. I wanted to get some rest and get time to properly prepare. But I still wanted to play some matches coming into Wimbledon, because I haven't had too many matches this year all in all.

That's the reason why I came to Eastbourne. And again, going back to what I have said just a while ago, it's a new place. So from that point of view, it does give me that extra motivation to be here.

Q. Can you tell us exactly what you have been doing since the French Open?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I spent a lot of time with my family. I went to Serbia and just spent time with my wife and my son and my parents, brothers, friends. We don't get to spend a lot of time in our country, so it was nice to be there and to reconnect.

And then I started training, you know, when I was back in Monaco, started training. Unfortunately we don't have any grass courts there, so trained on a quick hard court and then came over here. Got, I think, five, six already hitting sessions on the grass. You know, got myself as ready as I can be.

You know, obviously Wimbledon is the most important tournament, one of the most important tournaments in the world for everyone. On this surface, of course, by far the most important, but still I would like to get some matches under my belt here and prepare.

Q. Did you discuss it with your team? If so, is Andre a big part of that team? Is he talking about coming here?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yes. Not here. He will be in London for Wimbledon. He will stay as long as I stay in the tournament, so that's great news. Obviously Roland Garros, the eight or nine days that we spent together, were very valuable for me to get to know him, to learn from him. We shared a lot of experiences on and off the court, you know, things that he has been through that I can relate to and vice versa.

So having him around is not only great for myself but also for tennis. Getting to know him in Paris, I can see how much he cares about the game, how much he knows the game. It was very interesting to hear his perspective on tennis before and now, current tennis, how he analyzes my game and what he sees with things moving forward to improve and try to get back on the level desired.

That's all. I'm just looking forward to spend as much quality time with Andre as I can.

Q. The manner of your defeat against Dominic Thiem in the French Open, what do you make of the way people reacted to that defeat? Where are you mentally now compared to after that loss?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I honestly don't know how people reacted to that defeat because I wasn't paying attention. Honestly, I just, you know, experienced what I have personally experienced with people around me. Dominic just played a great match, especially from the beginning of the second set.

I completely lost my, you know, my rhythm and confidence on the court in the third. It was unfortunate for me to end up that match the way I did, but it happens. You know, it happens on a given day that you're not feeling your best and your opponent does.

That's all. You know, I had to move on. I'm aware of the fact that I'm not at the level that I was in the previous years, but, you know, sooner or later this kind of circumstances and experiences had to happen, and eventually sooner or later I had to deal with this kind of challenges and it came right now and I have to accept it.

I have to try to work on the court and off the court in order to figure out a way how to get back on the desired level. I'm in the process. How long it's going to take, I don't know. I mean, I can't predict the future, but I can do something that it is in my power, and that's to really be as committed as possible when I'm playing, you know, when I'm on the tour, when I'm training.

That's for sure a fact that I know that I still have that professionalism and commitment to the game because I still like playing it. So as long as it's like that, I will keep on going.

Q. A few minutes ago you touched on the fact that you haven't played as many matches as normal. You have just made mention of your level, et cetera. So how concerned are you going into Wimbledon?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: You know, I'm not concerned. I try to take this process one day at a time, especially on the grass courts. It's such a different surface from any other. I mean, couple decades ago you had three out of four Grand Slams played on grass. Now you have only one month in the entire season played on grass.

I just try to take things slowly and gradually build the form as I move on. As I have said, you know, Wimbledon is around the corner, so of course I want to be at my best coming into that tournament.

It does feel different than 12 months ago, of course. 12 months ago I had four Grand Slams under my belt, and coming into Wimbledon, completely different, you know, mentally than I am today. I still have to trust myself, my abilities to play well, and to win against anybody on any surface.

I have that in the back of my mind. I will just try to reach that consistency level that I need, because I felt like that's something that I was lacking. It was better in the last two months, but, you know, I have days where I play really well and days where it's a bit different.

As I said, it's a work in progress, and I've got to stay tuned.

Q. You seem very relaxed and chilled at the moment. Mentality is different to 12 months ago. Do you feel that your personality on the court on and off the court has changed throughout your career? I mean, we are thinking we have seen at least five different kind of Novaks.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yeah, of course. Hey, I'm expressive, I'd say, with my emotions generally in my life. I try to be, you know, as aware of all these emotions as possible in every single day, every single moment. It's not easy. We're all humans. We all go through our ups and downs through our doubts, through moments where everything seems brilliant and days where not so much.

I'm just trying to embrace whatever life throws my way. I'm sure that what I'm experiencing at the moment is happening for a reason, and it's there as a great way and great lesson for me to come out as even a stronger player and better person.

Of course I'm different than I was a year ago or two, three years ago. I'm a father today and soon to be, hopefully father of two, so things change and life changes. As I move on, you know, I'm at the same time as confident and vulnerable as I can be because I'm human being. I learn through this process, and I'm open for any kind of lessons that life, as I said, throws my way.

Q. How does the surface, the grass surface, compare here at Eastbourne, compare to the surface you play on at Wimbledon? Is it good preparation?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I think playing generally on grass, any kind of grass court, is great preparation, because we don't really get to have, as I have said, too many weeks around the year to play on this very unique surface.

So I try to use every day as much as I can, because we know also the weather is very unpredictable in Great Britain, and so I try to be early on the practice courts and, you know, use every minute, try to hit as many balls and move around the court, adjust to this surface as quick as I can.

I'm just happy that I have had the last three days, you know, some great practice sessions. I look forward to play first match tomorrow. We'll see how it goes. Hopefully I'll have few more days here and every day counts, basically, on this surface coming into Wimbledon.

Q. Were you surprised at all about the news from Boris last week?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, when I have heard it, I have checked in with him right away. He says that it's not true and that media overreacted. That's all I know. I'll see him now in London. We're still friends. We still stay, even though we are not working with each other, we are still very close in terms of communication. I love Boris as a person, and as a coach he contributed a lot to my life and to my career.

So if I can, you know, be of any help to him, that's what I told him, I'm always there for him. He can count on me.

Q. When are you planning to meet up with Andre? You're not working with him outside the Grand Slams. Is it enough time to make up for the difference that you want to make?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, it's something that the time will tell. For now, you know, we're going with the flow in a way. Andre has a very busy life. He has big family, he lives in West Coast of America. He's got his foundation, his businesses, has many, many things in his life that are consuming a lot of time.

First of all, I appreciate all his consideration to work with me and to be with me. So we don't have anything formal. We don't have anything signed. It's just as much as he can or he feels to be with me that I embrace that, I accept that, and I'm grateful for it.

Q. When will you meet up with him?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: It depends. I think he's supposed to arrive for weekend, next weekend. So he's going to be there before the tournament starts.

Q. I am from the tennis club here. We're producing a charity book to commemorate the completion of the redevelopment work here in 2020. Wonder if we could have a reflection for the book from you, your experiences of here so far? I know it's your first time.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, let's speak at the end of the week, hopefully. It's still too early. I'll be happy to contribute.

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