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May 28, 2018

Novak Djokovic

Paris, France

N. DJOKOVIC/R. Dutra Silva

6-3, 6-4, 6-4

THE MODERATOR: Questions in English.

Q. Welcome back. Can you tell us how you feel compared to last year? Stan told how difficult it is to come back from injuries. Can you tell us how difficult it has been, your road, to come back here?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I don't remember how I felt last year, to be honest. But it has been difficult to face injury, the major injury, most, say, challenging injury that I have ever had.

It's been a long 12 months behind me, but I'm starting to play better, I feel like, in the past couple of weeks, not thinking about the elbow, playing pain-free, which is the most important thing at the moment.

Q. Confidence is also the key in coming back or not?

Q. Straight-sets victory, but it looked painful at some point during the match. Was it the conditions? Were you under the weather a bit? What was going on?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: No, it was just I didn't feel that great. But, yeah, I played enough to win, so it's good (smiling).

Q. I have to ask you about your coach. You decided that MariƔn Vajda is back with you. So how do you feel with him? You know each over very well, and if you can say something about the future.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Every year is very different, especially considering that we have not worked for 12 months. It's great to have him back. I'm always saying that he's a friend, he's family, he's someone that I can rely on privately, and I shared many beautiful moments and difficult moments with him.

So both him and Gebhard Gritsch, who is my fitness coach who came back, you know, know my game very well, know me very well. And obviously these are different circumstances that we have to face, you know, with the post-injury development of the game.

You know, we are all hoping for the best.

Q. And for the future? Your deal is just the French Open or...

Q. Are you satisfied with what you have done this afternoon on court?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yeah, just as I said, I played enough to win. I think I had some really good moments in the match and some not that great.

But, you know, I played Dutra Silva, who is a specialist in clay, plays a lot of energy. He's a big fighter.

So it wasn't easy. You know, it was a three-sets, solid two-hour-match win.

But it was good for the first match. It was a good test.

Q. A couple of players were injured before Roland Garros, and since the first-round draw was announced, I think around nine players have withdrawn. What are your thoughts on the tour schedule and do you think anything can be done on the tour to prevent so many injuries?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: That's a bit complex subject to talk about. It's really hard to, say, find a simple definition to answer your question.

But the fact is that we have the longest season of all sports combined. And that is unfortunately, you know, hurting a lot of players down the road.

I experienced that myself in the last year and a half. You know, we all try to be fit. We all try to get our, you know, bodies and minds in the best possible state so we can always compete at the highest level, but it's not possible always. I think the changing of the surfaces, the time zones, and just, you know, it keeps on going, you know, from January 1st to end of November. It's a very long season.

But, you know, we have a beautiful sport that gives us a lot, and we have to be grateful in the end of the day.

Q. Few in the game are more reflective on their careers than you. You obviously just said that it's been a challenging 12 months. What have you learned about yourself as a person and an athlete during this time?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Oh, well, I had to dig deep, if you can call it that way, especially when I, you know, came back to the tennis court after four months, four-and-a-half months after not playing tennis end of last year, and then the pain recurred, and I didn't know in which direction, you know, that's going to take me. The season was behind a corner. I was not able to serve.

Then I was put in a position to play Australian Open. I managed to find some temporary solutions.

But in the end of the day, I had to make that -- that surgery had to be done when the season was already in second month. That was frustrating, really. It is what it is. I don't regret anything. Again, I kept on saying that everything in life happens for a reason, and it's on us to really figure out why certain things happen and try to learn from it.

You know, this sport has given me so much, and, you know, I don't feel that I owe anything to the sport or the sport doesn't owe anything to me. It's just, you know, a relationship that is based on pure love and passion.

As long as I feel like I'm supposed to play, I'll play. If, at the moment, I don't feel like playing, I will not, and I don't feel obliged by anyone but myself to be on the tennis court. I just try to remind myself why I started playing this sport, and that's where I draw a lot of energy from.

You know, it's a challenge. I mean, I'm not the first one to, first player in the history of this game to face these kind of circumstances with big injuries. Del Potro comes to mind. He's someone that has faced even worse, you know, challenging circumstances with two, three years of, you know, couple surgeries, coming back, playing, not playing really well, and then having to retire so many times.

And now he's, you know, back to top 10, top 5 of the world. That's impressive. Those kind of stories inspire you, and hopefully I can do the same.

Q. How did the Rome efforts aid your preparation for this tournament? You played some good tennis there.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yes, well, Roland Garros, I mean, is the biggest event on this surface. So obviously it's, as a big vision, always there in your mind, trying to get to the best possible shape to perform well in this tournament.

And so being here and thinking about the tournaments that I had on clay, the best performance came at the right time in Rome just before Paris.

And it was kind of a gradual raise of the level. I feel like I started okay in Monaco and had pretty bad tournaments in Barcelona and Madrid. Haven't played really that well. But Rome was pretty good.

So it was quite refreshing, to be honest, to play, you know, four, five matches in a tournament. That's it. I will try to take the positives out of there and use it into this tournament.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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