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June 1, 2018

Novak Djokovic

Paris, France

N. DJOKOVIC/R. Bautista Agut

6-4, 6-7, 7-6, 6-2

THE MODERATOR: Questions in English.

Q. Is this exactly the kind of win you feel you need right now?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yes, I think it was a great fight, almost four hours. Bautista Agut, he's not going to hand you the win. You have to deserve it.

You know, for me, not having so many matches in the last period, this is great. I mean, of course I don't want to play four, five hours every match, but I think it was a great test. I had to earn my victory. Last set was actually the best set that I have played so far in the tournament. I don't feel too exhausted. That's the good news, as well. I'm just looking forward to next challenge.

Q. Do you feel that you're getting into championship form now and enjoying your tennis?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yeah. Look, I thought I started well, set and 4-1, couple of set points. He just went for it. I was a bit unlucky not to capitalize on the second set. Maybe the match would be shorter, but at the same time, credit to him. I mean, he was better player in the third set, for example, and he was supposed to go his way, he was serving for it.

But that was a turning point. You know, I think for set and a half and the fourth set, I have played pretty well. As I said, the fourth set was the best performance I have had in the tournament. And after three hours and, you know, 15, 20 minutes, to be able to play that way and finish the match in tough conditions against a player who doesn't miss a lot and puts a lot of balls back, that's something that gives me great deal of confidence.

Q. In that second set, at the end there, you gave your racquet a little bit of abuse there. Is it silly to think that doing something like that can help you or does it maybe in that moment allow -- sort of what does that do for you?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Trust me, in that moment when I do it, I don't think about how it can help me (smiling).

Well, it was a big point, and I managed to come back from being down in the tiebreak, and 6-All, and then he came to the net, I played a great defense backhand down the line, and I had, in the middle of the court, a forehand, and he went on one side. If the ball went over it would be a winner, and I hit the top of the net.

And in these kind of circumstances, sometimes emotions get, you know, get the worst out of you, you know, or the best out of you, whatever you want to call it.

At times in my career, these kind of situations, when I would scream or throw a racquet, it would kind of wake me up and help me to just kind of free myself from that pressure that is just building throughout the match, but there are times when it doesn't help. So it's really hard to say what's the right thing to do.

I'm not proud of doing that, to be honest. I don't like doing that. But at times, it happens.

Q. I have seen the crowds in your matches cheer for you a lot and be supportive, more so I think than ever because you have been away and they have missed you. I'm wondering how you feel about that and how it helps.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I'm so blessed, I mean, to receive this kind of support here, here and Rome, I mean, the last tournament, it's unbelievable. It's really like playing at home. All I can say is I'm very grateful and I feel like I can speak French a little bit better. That's probably my goal. And also to get as far as I can in this tournament and give them good tennis and good energy, you know, to enjoy on the court.

Q. When you're in the heat of the battle and you really have to fight, how does that make you feel? What range of emotions do you go through? Do you thrive on that? Are there aspects you enjoy or does it frustrate you because at different stages of your career when you've been on top you haven't had to fight as hard?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, to make it very simple for you, you go through a rainbow of emotions. Every possible level of the color of the rainbow, you go through it. From the most positive to most negative. The doubtful moments, excitement. You go through everything.

I think most of the athletes, especially who are playing on the top level, go through that. You have the affirmations, of course, that help to kind of stay positive in this mindset.

But it's not possible to stay positive at all times. I still haven't met the athlete like that, to be honest, that is always positive and so forth. You go through the moments where you're frustrated. You're just pissed off with your game or with something else or whatever it is, you know. We are all humans, we all go through these roller coasters.

But in the end of the day, it's something that makes you stronger, makes you understand yourself on various levels, and these are tools for, I guess, self-improvement in a way from that mental/emotional standpoint.

Q. I don't know if you would want to share, but what did you tell him at the net? Seemed like you talked a little bit with him. He's been in a rough situation lately. What kind of words did you find?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I like Roberto. He's a very nice guy. We get along very well ever since he came on the tour. We have tons of respect and appreciation for each other.

So I just -- we exchanged these words. I tried to, you know, also give him support for, you know, I don't know if I should talk about this, but he had, I don't know how much you guys know, but he has been through some difficult times with his family. That's something that, you know, is really unfortunate, and for him to come to this tournament and to be able to play like this, it's quite an effort.

So, yeah.

Q. From the get-go in your career, you faced a wide range of emotions from a small kid with a lot of pressure on you to ups and downs of the tour. What emotions do you think you have learned the very most from, have had the most impact on your career?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I mean, you always learn more from losses than from wins. Always. Because when you lose a match, it puts you in a position, in a state of mind where you're just questioning, doubting where you're just -- everything that is maybe suppressed or has been not addressed at the time is surfacing when you lose a big match.

That's when you have to deal with this kind of emotions and understand how you can get better, how you can balance everything that is happening inside so you can come out the next challenge and learn from it and be better and strive to never really give up.

So it's hard to pick a specific match that I have learned mostly from, but probably a couple of Roland Garros losses in the finals here, back to back, Nadal and Wawrinka, and then going to London and winning Wimbledon. Those, you know, those matches when I lost here, that was really hurting me, you know, deeply, and that's, you know, I had to regroup, and obviously fortunately for me just around the corner I had another slam that obviously is not any slam; it's Wimbledon. So that motivates you again, and I managed to win the titles there which brought another breath of life and energy into me.

But, you know, every match is an opportunity for me to grow, to learn, and to understand myself.

Q. Just a quick one. You know, when you talk about emotions, is there anyone in your team that helps you understand and control that?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: You can't control emotions. I mean, at least in my opinion. You can observe them, you can try to, you know, master the ability to avoid getting too much into situations which compromise your focus and composure, but you can't control them. I mean, it's -- I don't know if anyone can do that. If someone can do that, please tell me so I can speak to them (smiling).

And from my team, of course I have, you know, a team of friends and experts that are helping me on a daily basis through conversations, through really try to see things from a positive side and continue to motivate myself to work and to get better. I mean, from every aspect of the being, whether it's emotional, mental, physical, technical, whatever it is. We talk a lot.

It's why I think -- I mean, I always shared very intimate, close relationships with people that travel with me, that surround me, because I always thought that they are family. I mean, we travel so much together, we spend so much time together, it's hard to be distant, you know what I mean?

That's at least how I operated throughout my career.

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