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January 16, 2018

Novak Djokovic

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia


6-1, 6-2, 6-4

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. You didn't look rusty at all for this first official match. How did it feel?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, it felt great to be back on the court and compete again. It's been a while. Obviously you don't know how you're going to start off.

I was putting a lot of hours on the court in the last couple weeks, and I played a lot of practice sets, and I had only one match leading up to this tournament in Kooyong. You know, in more or less all of these practice sessions, I could feel that I'm hitting the ball well. So I was hoping this is going to obviously continue and be kind of transferred into the first round of Australian Open.

But, you know, playing a practice set and playing an official match in a Grand Slam is quite different because, you know, obviously you have nerves that kick in. But I used my experience of, you know, being in these particular circumstances so many times in my life that, you know, enabled me to kind of keep my focus and start off well with the right intensity.

I just tried, you know, to embrace whatever emotions are coming, but at the same time trying to focus myself as much as I can on the present moment. Well, the first two sets went extremely well, considering that I haven't played for six months. The third was, you know, up and down a little bit, but in general was a great performance.

Q. You spoke after the match about having never finding yourself in this period in your career, six months out, and you talked about the nerves. How did you deal with the nerves? Didn't appear nervous.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I did have various emotions, mostly good ones: Excitement, joy, gratitude for being able to have an opportunity to compete. Not a while ago, about three weeks ago, I didn't know whether I'm going to play Australia or not.

Obviously there was a lot of good emotions. I was looking forward to get out on the court and compete. But, I mean, I did feel nerves and I did feel a bit skeptical whether I'm going to be able to continue playing well as I have the last couple weeks in the practice sessions.

But I thought I controlled it well. I didn't get carried away by anything, even though I was a couple times in the match that things could have maybe gotten different way and different direction. I just didn't allow it to happen. Very, very solid performance.

Q. How do you feel about your serve? You spoke about it prior to the tournament that you're going to change it a bit because of your injury. How do you feel about your new serve?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, second serve was very, very good. I'm very happy with the second serve. First serve was kind of up and down.

When you come back after a long time and you play first match, you know, obviously all the things are a bit exaggerated, whatever is not working well. You think, Wow.

All in all, I'm quite pleased. I know that it's going to take a little bit of time for me to kind of work my way in and get used to the specific changes that I've made in my service motion.

It wasn't ideal, but it was still good. I'm looking forward to work on it more. I hope to improve in this aspect.

Q. Where did you feel rusty today?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I mean, there were not too many things I didn't feel so good about, to be honest. As I said, there were certain parts of the match, maybe in the third set, where I didn't capitalize on all these opportunities, breakpoints, match points. Maybe I should have just, you know, approached these kind of points with a little bit more of intensity, a little bit more of aggressivity, but I haven't.

It's fine, you know. I won straight-set match. After six months, there's not much to say in a negative note about it.

Q. You're clearly delighted to be back. You won here six times, love the tournament. Would you really be prepared to boycott the event next year if your concerns aren't met with the tour? Can you clarify for us what those concerns are?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: No boycott, no.

Q. Can you clarify for the nonplayers what your issues are and the way you see forward with them?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I saw that some of you have written a story that has been a little bit exaggerated. You've taken things out of the context. I saw that you've portrayed me as someone who is very greedy, asks for more money and wants to boycott.

But I respect your, you know, freedom and decisions to do that. But not much of what you have wrote is true. What happened is that we, players, just wanted to have us players talk about certain topics. I don't think there is anything unhealthy about that. We get together, a hundred players get together two or three times in a whole year. This is one of the places where we get together.

We wanted to use this opportunity to speak about certain subjects and see how everyone, you know, reacts to that, and I guess see what opinions are. There was no decisions being made. There was no talks about boycott or anything like that.

That's all I can say really. Nothing much else to add.

Q. What are your thoughts on unionizing?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Listen, you know, I know that you guys are trying to take this forward several steps. Obviously you're talking about union, you're talking about boycott, you're talking about radical decisions to make and move so we can get financial compensations the way we deserve it.

But there was no talks about that. Again, I'm saying it was subjects that we never get a chance to talk about in such a large group. That's all it was. Never have intentionally thrown anybody out of the room. Everything was done in a very normal, polite way. Players wanted to stay alone. There was up to a hundred players in the room. We talked about things that we talked about. That's all.

In the future we might have more of these kind of, you know, get-togethers just to see where we are. You never get to hear what majority of the players really thinks between the players. So that was the whole purpose of us getting together.

Q. The majority was more or less agreed on what either you or someone else was saying? Were there people saying black and other people saying white?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, what do you think (smiling)?

Q. Well, I think is not important what I think. It's important what you think.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I think, and I keep it to myself (smiling).

Q. You've had support from some quarters, like Andy Roddick and Judy Murray, who says there's merit in the idea of a players union, perhaps even between the two tours. What is your view on that, for instance?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Right now the things are as they are. If I speak further about any of the subjects that you have mentioned, obviously it might be taken out of the context. I don't want that.

My focus is on this tournament at the moment. I'm really happy that we got a chance, all of us players, to speak together in one place, in one moment for an hour. That's all it was.

Q. Are you and the players still in favor of trying to get a greater percentage of the revenue from tournaments? Is that an issue? It seems like tournaments are increasing their revenue every year.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Everybody's trying to do their best. I mean, we are here at the Australian Open, and they always try to compensate the players in a best possible way. Craig Tiley is always trying to accommodate players to make them feel like at home, make them feel respected and valued.

I mean, things are going in the right direction. Obviously, you know, the question that you ask me you can ask president of ATP. I'm part of the council, but I don't sit on these negotiation tables. Obviously before you get anything to be voted on the board, it has to go through council. It's not only me that makes some calls, far from that. I'm just glad that I'm part of it, that I can contribute to a better sport today, and the future. Hopefully the next generation will even have a better sport.

Q. You also know the other side having been tournament director in Belgrade.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yeah, it's quite different being tournament director. My uncle is tournament director in Belgrade, 250 event. Grand Slam is quite different.

You know, ATP is an association of players and tournaments. It has worked like that for last 40-plus years in this kind of harmony, so to say. It's not easy because a lot of times there's a conflict of interest. But everybody is trying to do their best.

Q. Was gender equality prize money one of the issues discussed on Friday?

Q. When you say no boycott of the Australian Open, are you saying that that wasn't a subject you raised at the meeting?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: That wasn't a subject I raised, no.

Q. What was the thinking of having a lawyer there?

Q. Did you have a lawyer present with you?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: No. Where did you get that?

Q. So that's not correct? There was no lawyer in the room at all?

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