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May 30, 2018

Novak Djokovic

Paris, France


7-6, 6-4, 6-4

THE MODERATOR: Questions in English.

Q. It looked tougher out there today. I was just wondering, if you keep going through these tough matches rally after rally, is there a fear of the elbow flaring up, or is that behind you now?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I have no fear of that. I'm comfortable.

Q. Did you know him at all before this match? What did you think? It looked like a tough test for you today.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yeah, I have not watched him play too many times, but I know Rafa Nadal is his mentor. He trains at his academy, so obviously he was well-prepared for the match. He fights. He gets a lot of balls back, and he's ten years younger than me (smiling), which is amazing to say and experience.

But credit to him for fighting and playing well. Me, I mean, I went through my ups and downs, and not really satisfied with the performance.

You know, I just played enough in the right moments to win the match. So hopefully the level will increase and will get better in the next match.

Q. After 2008 when you won your first, I know you went into a little bit of a rut and you talked to me before how it was really tough. Is this moment now even tougher than that? And I'm sure you're glad you're coming out of it now.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I mean, look, I mean, I think it's all a personal perspective, how you perceive things in life.

It can be really tough and it can be really easy. I mean, everything starts and ends with us in our minds.

Yeah, I mean, to sit here and talk about how tough it is and you have people starving to death, this is, for me, there is no point in talking about that. I mean, it's just the way it is. As an athlete I have to face these challenges, I will call them, and if I overcome them or not, it's just a matter of, you know, work that I have put into, luck at times, and circumstances that I'm in.

And that's it. I have achieved so much in my life, and I'm very, very grateful for that. That's all I can say.

I mean, I don't like to talk anymore about what is tough, what is not tough. I mean, life is great.

Q. You practice quite often with David Goffin. I was wondering, what do you like about him and how far you think he can go here?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, yeah, he's a really nice guy. We get along really well on and off the court. He was and he still is, you know, one of the most talented guys on the tour, has got great hands, really quick footwork. Deservedly he's one of the top players of the world.

You know, he had some periods where he played really, really good, and then he had an injury unfortunately, as well, that for several months bothered him I think at the beginning of this year.

But it seems like he's coming back on his level. I mean, he's always someone that can, you know, impose a great challenge for any player on any surface.

Q. Some people worry about making changes in their lives or in their careers. You seem to actively embrace it, whether it's your diet, the team around you, your preparation. You constantly are driving for perfection to be the best you can be. Do you ever worry about making changes, or do you always see that as a positive?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I don't worry. I follow my heart and my gut, and I believe that decisions that I make in life are the right ones, even though they don't seem the right ones maybe to some people. But to me, they are the right ones at the time. At that moment I feel certain emotion towards something, and of course I'm trying to be rational and responsible and think about it.

I don't make decisions upon every thought that I have, but, you know, I do feel like evolving is something that is natural. It's a natural process of every human being in our planet. So I try to, you know, strive and to evolve and to get better as a person and as a player, as well.

I mean, it is what it is. At the moment I'm not playing at the level I wish to, but at the same time I understand that it is the process that obviously takes time. And I'm trying to not give up and create the best out of this situation and circumstances that I'm in.

Q. If we take the first set from 5-2 to 5-All, what's the thing you're not satisfied about? Is it more of a focus issue?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yeah, it's several things. Obviously I have mentioned several times before that, you know, best practice that you can have is a match. I haven't had too many matches, and I really never thought that I'm going to be challenged in that way mentally, that I need matches in order to get confidence.

But obviously I'm learning something new, and, yeah, that's the case. You know, at times I do lose maybe a comfort level on the court and confidence, and that's something that I'm still building gradually, obviously. The more matches I play, the better it is. The more I win, of course, the better it is (smiling).

Hopefully that can keep going.

Q. Can you explain what makes it so difficult to gain back the self-confidence to the level from your best days?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I have to embrace this kind of situation in life where it's different. You know, I'm not -- and I don't want to be the same person and player that I was two, three, four years ago. It's just different. I have different life. I mean, I'm a father of two children, and it's a lot of different things that I prioritize in life. It's not only about tennis, which has been the case before.

So you have to adjust to it, embrace it, and try to find best possible solutions to balance everything and thrive in every aspect of your life.

Q. I think I'm right in saying on Twitter a few weeks ago you kind of sent Andy a jokey message about Star Wars or something?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: It was a Star Wars day. Because the ATP posted, I think, us playing a point in Rome. It was a kind of a Star Wars day, so they were just posting that so I kind of retweeted that and mentioned Andy in the tweet.

Q. I was wondering more seriously if you have had any contact with him or sent him any good wishes or...
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yes, directly and indirectly, through his brother, as well. I mean, obviously we are part of -- we spoke, actually, recently because we are part of the player council, so we had a meeting and he was on the conference call. We got to have a FaceTime, as well. Yeah, he was very committed for four hours, like, three, four hours he was part of that meeting.

I mean, obviously he's got two children now, and life at home for sure for him is different and I can understand him. And I can only imagine how difficult it is for him, as well, to deal with the circumstances of injury. You know, that's something that I can relate to. I mean, I have had quite a similar situation, although his injury takes more time, obviously.

And hopefully we can see him playing on grass, because that's where, I guess, he wants to play.

Q. I talked to MariƔn Vajda and he told me your service became faster after the changes. Can you tell me about that, and about the process of changing your service?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Changing the -- it sounded "shirt." Sorry. Service? Okay. Service. Sorry.

I was, like, Wow, what does shirt have anything to do with... (Laughter.)

Yes and no. I mean, at times when I have good days of serving, the serve, everything flows. The issue that I had with service motion is that I had to alternate it a lot because of the injury. I changed the racquet, and I start to explore different technical changes and movements in my motion.

Unfortunately, every little thing that you change affects the big sort of, say, picture, which is the whole service motion.

So if you look in my matches from Australia and Indian Wells and now, I mean, I have three different service motions already this year.

So it's something that I'm working on, and it's, at times, like today, I mean, some parts of the match I didn't feel rhythm at all of the serve. So I was missing a lot of first serves.

At times I feel quite comfortable, and then the speed, obviously, increases, as well. But I think for me it's a matter of rhythm and confidence and getting comfortable with that motion, whatever that is. I'm trying to stick to one motion and not -- right now we are not really trying to change anything on the practice sessions. We are just trying to get as many practice serves as possible so I can get comfortable with that.

Q. We saw the picture of you with Serena's daughter. We know that you have a relationship with her. Yesterday she went on court in a very gutsy move that hasn't really been done for decades. Could you just take a moment and, first of all, just talk about what she's like and how she's special in not just tennis but culture, as a whole. And if I would ask, what would it take to get you out there in a body suit.

I love Serena. I mean, you know, all the superlatives and beautiful words that you can think of, you know, she deserves it. Especially now, I mean, after she gave birth to Olympia. And after all she has achieved in sport to see her back and, you know, putting hours on the court and work and again and again, it's impressive. It's inspiring. It really is.

I do have a really nice relationship with her, and we -- there is actually, I don't know if you know, but there is one day difference between my daughter and her daughter. Yeah.

So we have texted a lot in the process. So she was very nice to share a lot of things that she was going through with me and my wife, and I really appreciated that. I felt really close to her. All I can say is I love her, and I wish her all the best.

Q. You spoke about how it's a bit surreal to be playing a player who is 10 years younger. I wondered if you could have a word with yourself 10 years ago, what might you say?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: It's funny you ask me that, but I do have, trying to visualize conversations with my younger self, especially in the last year or so, because, I mean, I feel like I need to -- I feel like I need to go back to those days when I started playing tennis and why I started playing tennis to remind myself and to get inspired and to get motivation from that source, you know.

So it's funny that you ask me, but seriously, I do think about it. I do also visualize that.

What I'm getting from my younger self is smile and remember why you started playing it. If this becomes a mechanical thing for me, it's not good. It's not good for anybody, I mean, to do something that they started to do or to play, I mean, in this particular case, to play sports, they started because of the passion, because they love it. Because the kids, why they start sport, you know, 99.9% start because they just fall in love with a sport.

And nowadays, sport is becoming a little bit of too much of a business, in my opinion. So it's very important to always remind yourself of that source of why you started and to always balance things out.

Of course, there are days when you feel more like playing, when you feel less like playing. I mean, it's all normal, we are all people, we all go through ups and downs in life. But going back to that inner child is very essential, I think, at least in my case, and he's there and he's reminding me to enjoy what I do.

Q. A question related to Serena. How do you think, is it easier to be a father and play tennis than it is as a mother?

Q. In what way?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I think it's obvious (smiling). I mean, what woman has to go through, you know, with the pregnancy and birth and then everything after that? You know, I'm sorry to all the guys, but it's much more difficult for a woman. So that's why it makes it even more impressive when they make -- when they make a comeback, and especially Serena, you know, after all she has done. We cannot forget about that.

I mean, it's not like she never won a slam and then now she wants to come back because she has something to achieve from that perspective, you know. She has won what, 23? She's the greatest female athlete of all times, probably, and she keeps on coming back and inspiring everyone. She uses tennis as a platform to do good things, and that's why she's back, I think. I mean, you can see how much she loves it.

Q. When you're in Paris, does half of you feel like you're Rene Lacoste?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: That's a good one (smiling).

Yes. And I'm grateful for that, because, I mean, Lacoste has done a wonderful campaign and they had a great idea and obviously being related to Lacoste, Rene Lacoste and Lacoste as a brand, and him as an individual that was a champion and inventor. I don't think many people know actually how many things he has invented in his life. You know, the graphite racquet and balls and for golf, like, several little tools for golf. I mean, he was quite an impressive man, and I have learned even more about him ever since I joined the Lacoste family.

So I appreciate them choosing me to be a brand ambassador, and, yeah, I mean, obviously Lacoste is world-renowned sports brand. So I'm just proud to be part of it.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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