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July 6, 2017

Novak Djokovic

Wimbledon, London, England

N. DJOKOVIC/A. Pavlasek

6-2, 6-2, 6-1

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Should be nice to play losing few games? Only five today. Three the other day. Eight games in two rounds. Never happened before to you. What about the minutes? 2 hours and 34 minutes for two matches.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: How many breaths did I take (smiling)?

It's perfect. Exactly what I want. I don't want to have any five-set matches. I had enough match play in Eastbourne.

I felt very good today in terms of, you know, my game and where it was from the beginning till the end. So just keeps going in the right direction.

Q. Pavlasek said you were somebody he idolized while growing up. First, is that weird to be at a stage where that's a thing where people are idolizing you while growing up? Second, what did you say to him afterward? He seemed encouraged about your conversation.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, first of all, it makes me look old (smiling). But, yeah, it is definitely very nice to hear that I inspired him, you know, with my tennis and what I have done. Of course it's very flattering. I'm grateful of for that.

At the same time, stepping on to the same court, I try not to think about that too much and try to do what I'm supposed to do.

But I can understand that the emotions that he was going through on the court first time in Wimbledon and first time on a big court like that. It obviously was a big occasion for him.

I congratulate him for reaching this stage where he can play the big match. Obviously I think he can play better than he did today. Nerves got to him a little bit. But, you know, it's a Grand Slam match. So it's completely different. I'm sure he can use this experience as a confidence boost for the rest of his career.

Q. How is it to step on this Court 1 today 12 months after what happened against Querrey? Any flashback? Were you thinking about it?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: No, not at all. To be honest, it was quite different stage, I would say, because of the construction of the roof. So, you know, it looks quite open now, you know, because there are construction works being done and the process, as well.

It felt different. But in a good way. I enjoyed it.

Q. There were a couple of raised eyebrows, particularly in the British press yesterday, with John McEnroe's comments, you know, comparing this slump or the difficulty you have had in the last 12 months to Tiger Woods and the issues he went through. What's your reaction to what John said? What do you make of those comments?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yeah, I have heard about it today. Look, you know, John has a complete right to say -- anybody, really, in the world has a right to say what they want, and I respect that right. Especially coming from John, because he's someone that has earned that right because of who he is and what he has meant to the sport and what he still, you know, is representing as a former player and still being very active on the tour.

And he's very well known for his, you know, kind of bold comments and not really caring too much about being politically correct but saying whatever is on his mind.

That's all I can say. I really don't take anything personal. I always got along very well with John. You know, I guess whether that's his opinion or criticism or something else, I'm not really sure. But in the end of the day, I respect everything he says.

Q. Is there any basis for what he was saying? That off-field distractions have affected your form in any way?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I'm not sure. I always got along very, very well with John. We even practiced a few years ago before one of my matches in US Open, and was always talking nicely about me.

As I said, I really don't take it in a negative way anyhow. It's fine. He has his right to say the things he wants to say. I don't necessarily need to agree with that. But it's his right.

So I don't know where was the basis, and he was just maybe making a comparison. I'm not really sure.

When I was warming up for my first match on the Centre Court, he was giving an intro, talking to the camera, and I served and the serve went straight at him as I was playing. I don't know. Maybe it's because of that (smiling). Maybe he thought it wasn't a joke, and I was joking, I was trying to hit him.

I don't know. I take it very lightly. I don't think there was any kind of really wrong intention from his side towards me.

Q. The courts here always change over the two weeks. Courts go brownish, losing the grass and whatnot. Which one do you prefer? What's it like?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I think we all prefer the first week, you know, we came to play on grass, so it's nice to actually play on grass.

Yeah, I mean, I guess the more you play on it -- the grass is a very particular surface. The more you play on it, the worse it actually is and worse it gets. Contrary to clay, for example. The more you play on it, the better condition it actually is.

So you can get, in second week particularly, some bad bounces and, you know, something like that. The groundsmen of Wimbledon are the best in the world, by far, for grass courts. So they are making sure to keep the courts in good conditions and well kept. They can do only as much. Sometimes if you make a hole or something like that, you know, it's hard to kind of find a way to recuperate that.

But I think, you know, as much as I have played in Wimbledon in my career, and in the second week, especially Centre Court or Court 1, there was never any kind of major issues in terms of some really bad spots on the court. It was always very well kept, especially in the dimensions of the court. And, you know, behind the court, well, you know, couple feet behind the court you don't have much grass because there is so much movement happening and so many matches being played on it. It's something you get used to. You have to accept it.

Q. You have been very generous to John McEnroe considering he's accused your life of imploding the same way as Tiger's did. Do you deny all the things he's said or...
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I have said everything I needed to say on this matter.

Q. This might be a bit tricky because it involves your racquet sponsor. I'll try to be as generic as possible. They dropped Bernard Tomic after what he said in his press conference. He said he felt bored on the court, he felt he didn't respect the sport as much as he used to. He said he felt very old. He was being honest. Essentially tennis is your job and you can be bored and you can suffer sometimes. Do you think someone should be penalized or can you empathize with some of what he said?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: That's a good point. From a human side, you know, we all have that empathy and we all have that compassion, so it's just a matter of whether that surface, whether you allow it to surface, whether you try to understand the person or not. So it just really depends on you.

I generally try to understand people and why they take certain actions or words and we all are humans. We all have our flaws. We all, in the heat of the moment, maybe say some things that are not appropriate maybe, by definition of someone, or something.

But again, it's understandable, in a way, why Head has reacted in this way. Because it's not the right message to send out there from one of the most talented players that has played a game in last, you know, six, seven years, and someone that, you know, was a hero to -- he is a hero to many children, especially in Australia. Everybody looking up to him and him making these comments, I understand that perspective.

I also, I have to, you know, because I'm on the tour, I play tennis, I understand the ups and downs that you experience as a player, understand the emotions that you go through, and it's not easy. It's not easy.

There are tougher things in life. Absolutely. We have to be very grateful for the kind of lifestyle we have and to be given an opportunity to play a sport that we love.

You know, for him, it's different now. He's going through a tough stage, and you have to kind of understand it and support it.

Q. Since this is kind of the scene of where you started to struggle a little from last year, do you feel like it's important to come in here and if you do well maybe you can get past that hump?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, you know, I'm already enjoying the process very much. I mean, especially in the last couple of months. Even though maybe results haven't been up to the standard that I have had in the last seven, eight years, it's just, you know, in order to reach a new peak, you have to, I guess, fold a little bit in some way.

And I try to have that kind of mindset and approach, understanding what I'm going through and understanding that I can't always be very successful in playing in the highest possible level.

Eventually, as it happened, these things will happen that I, you know, start losing in a bigger tournaments, you know, in earlier rounds, and drop my rankings. That hasn't happened for, you know, for many years.

Once you're in that kind of flow, I guess, and everything is working perfectly and you're No. 1 of the world for many years and winning Grand Slams and that's the standard that you set for yourself, you kind of feel like you're in some kind of machine that keeps rolling and you don't really get the chance to sit down and reflect on what's happening.

Of course I was, and I'm still, very proud of what I have managed to achieve and accomplish. You know, when you're winning, of course, your ego, your confidence is high. Everything is functioning well. Why would you change anything? I know many times that during, in the course of the last couple of years, where I was just, you know, going against the signals of my body, where I was probably needing to maybe take a little break or rest or maybe skip a certain tournament, I wasn't doing that.

It gave me results. Fine. But the interest rate came and the payment came a bit later. And it came two or three times as hard as maybe would before that.

I'm not regretting anything. I just am someone that believes everything in life happens for a reason. So I find myself in this situation where I just learn, evolve, and I try to get to another stage, to another level as a person and as a player.

That's all. I mean, look, life goes on. I have had amazing career so far. I have nothing to regret for. And I have a lot to look forward to, to be honest. I'm excited to just keep going. I don't feel like end is anywhere near. Well, as long as that flare of passion and love for the game is there, I will just keep going.

Q. Did you have a problem with his coaches at one point during the match today? Looked like you had an exchange of words after you saved a break.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: No, that wasn't his coaches.

Q. Was it just the crowd?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yeah, it was -- you know, I don't know. I try to be always very open and very honest to myself, to everyone around, and I just don't like when somebody comes to the stands with intention to just provoke and just, you know, intentionally cheer against and just say certain things that are not right when you're close picking up the towel. I just feel that's not appropriate. It's not in the spirit of the sport.

As long as everything is within the spirit of supporting, let's say, appropriate, I would say energy of supporting the certain player, whether you like me or not, I mean, that's completely up to them, and I respect that. It's just someone that comes and just continuously tries to do something is not really appropriate. It's not acceptable for me.

So I have no problem to confront anyone, because I will not allow anyone to do something that is not right.

Q. Can you tell us what they said to you?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: No. Doesn't matter.

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