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July 14, 2018

Novak Djokovic

Wimbledon, London, England


6-4, 3-6, 7-6, 3-6, 10-8

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. After your defeat in Roland Garros, you said your grass season maybe was in danger. What changed during this month?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I decided to play. Obviously I was disappointed right after the match. It's hard to talk about what comes next, after that loss in Roland Garros. That's why I said I don't know, because I was just off the court.

When I took few days off and regrouped, I wanted to get back on the court and keep on going. Obviously it was a right choice. I had a great week in Queen's. Just managed to get five matches under my belt, have a great buildup and preparation to Wimbledon.

Now I'm in the finals. I'm really, really pleased. I was very emotional after the match, as well, because it's been a long 15 months for me, you know, trying to overcome different obstacles. So to be where I am at the moment is quite, quite satisfying.

Q. Why was it you wanted the roof to remain closed?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: The tournament organizers and referees said that the roof has to be closed because we started the match with the roof closed.

Q. It was between the players.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: No. They told us we had to play under the roof.

Q. You seemed extraordinarily calm throughout the whole thing, especially with your past of how you've been so emotive on the court. It was very different. Is this something that you brought into yourself from something you studied or a form of meditation, or just you told yourself you're going to be focused?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, thank you, first of all. I take that as a compliment. I'm not always calm, I assure you of that. I had bursts of emotions even today and yesterday. When you're playing such a high level, you know, against one of the biggest rivals, probably my biggest rival ever, it's quite intense. There's a lot of emotions in play. A lot is at stake. You feel it. You're going through that.

Obviously it's important, as everybody says, to take in and accept whatever is happening and try to kind of possess the calm mind, because the calm mind in the end wins. It has been proven many times before at the highest level of sports, in various sports.

But it's a big task. You can't always be emotionless. Even though it seems like, Federer, for example, is really a master at that. I'm sure he goes through his own emotions inside. He's just managing to keep the control of it. Sometimes you lose the control. The match is long, so you have time to bounce back, I guess, to regroup.

That's what happened today. A couple times I lost my cool, then I lost my serve, then a set. Nadal is who he is because he knows how to use those momentums. When he sees the opportunity, he seizes it, he really takes it. That's why this match was extraordinary from every point of view. Incredibly proud to overcome it.

Q. It was an extraordinary match, maybe the best of the year, yet there's no trophy in the end.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yeah. This is my trophy, the stats (smiling).

Q. How do you go to the next one already tomorrow knowing you will be the favorite of that match?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, Kevin also had quite a few hours on the court in the last couple matches. But he had a day off, which is quite, so to say, necessary at this stage. I wish I can have a day. But it is what it is. I'll just have to accept the circumstances and try to recover as best as I can.

I don't know if I'll be the clear favorite in that one. I think we're quite even. He's playing I think his second Grand Slam finals. He played the US Open finals last year. He's definitely playing the tennis of his life. He's coming off from two epic marathon five-set wins. I don't think he has much to lose really tomorrow. He's going to come out with big serves and big tennis.

Hopefully I'll be able to weather the storm.

Q. After such a grueling match, how will you get ready for it, spend the next few hours? Any rituals?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I can't get too much into details. We don't have much time for that. But I'll respect the routines that I had over so many years. The best recovery I can have is spend time with my kids. That's what I'm looking forward to.

Q. Were there times in the last 15 months where you didn't think you'd be back at this stage? Was there a moment when you realized you actually were back now?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yes, there were moments of doubt, of frustration, disappointment, where you're questioning whether you want to keep it going in this way or that way, where is that taking you. Everybody goes through that process of thinking. I don't know anybody that is managing always to stay positive, to always 100% have self-belief, confidence. It's life. We humans, we go through that.

Obviously the entire process, speaking from this position right now, it makes it even better for me, makes it even more special because I managed to overcome challenges and obstacles, get myself to the finals of a slam. Obviously if you told me that six months ago, I would take it right away.

But did I truly believe that I can get back on the level? Yes, I mean, it's hard for me to play tennis and not believe that I can be the best in what I do. I mean, I've been fortunate to achieve so much in my career that every time I go to the tournament, I have highest of ambitions.

Yeah, that's always kind of a mindset.

Q. Was there a particular moment where you realized you were back?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Probably Rome tournament was really good. Roland Garros, some matches. The last one wasn't that great. But the whole grass court season has been really, you know, confirming that level of tennis, that I felt like I was starting to play.

Q. To clarify on the roof situation. You said the organizers told you that you were playing under the roof.

Q. There was no dialogue at all?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: There was a dialogue, yeah.

Q. Did you express a preference either way? Rafa came in and said he didn't want to play under the roof. People say the indoor conditions would suit you. Did you make it clear that that was your opinion, that you'd rather not play under the roof?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: No. I was for the roof because we started to play, and I wanted to play in the same conditions.

Q. You did ask them?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I didn't ask them. I just expressed my opinion because they asked for my opinion. But as I understood, they already made a decision.

Q. You've played Rafa more than any other man that you've played. It's also the rivalry that has had the most matchups of any in the open era. What is the physical toll it takes when you play Rafa?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: If I show you my feet, you would understand (laughter).

He's probably the greatest fighter ever to play this game. I mean, he battles every single point like it's his last. That's something that is so impressive with Rafa. That's what makes him so difficult to beat on any surface.

You coming into the match against him, knowing that you have to earn your points, is already an energy-spending moment. So you have to be ready for it, obviously. That's why you put in X amount of hours on the practice court, preparation, trying to be as professional as you can, because you need to compete with a guy like Nadal. He does the same.

If you want to be able to compete on such a high level, eventually get a win against him in the big tournaments, then you have to give it all you got.

Q. There was a breathtaking moment towards the end of the match, that sensational dropshot that had you stretching every sinew. I don't know how you didn't end up in Wimbledon Royal infirmary. What do you put your body through to be able to do that?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Thank you for reminding me because I have to be grateful for my body and to my body, honestly. I mean, we take things for granted sometimes. So I try to take care of my body. All my life, I've been really trying to be aware of my body, my mind and everything, work on getting myself to the optimal shape so I can do these kind of elastic things on the court.

Yeah, it was one of those moments where I think time stopped for me. Match point, I saw him coming in, I played a relatively solid shot. It was a moment of decision making for him knowing whether he was going to go for a dropshot or just smack the backhand. When I saw him changing the grip, I started running.

But the dropshot was just too good. I was too far away. But I did try to, like, in 'Space Jam,' with Michael Jordan, when he was trying to stretch, that's probably something that comes to my mind to describe it.

Q. Before you said Anderson has nothing to lose. You said that like you think you instead would have something to lose. Is that correct? I tell you right now Serena Williams has lost to Kerber, but if you can make a comment on that.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I mean, considering he's playing only his second Grand Slam final, obviously he has a lot more to gain. If I take my last couple years, I don't have much to lose myself. I'm, again, in a Grand Slam finals after a long time, after actually almost two years.

Of course, we want this trophy. We want this match, both of us. Who is going to take it? I don't know. It really depends.

And Serena lost. I mean, it's obviously an amazing result for Kerber. It's not a huge surprise because Kerber is a top player. She won couple Grand Slams already. She beat Serena in finals I think Australian Open. It's quite amazing that she managed to pull out the win against Serena.

Serena, after giving birth to her child, not playing for so long, she got to the Wimbledon finals, I think she'll take it. I think she'll be very happy. She keeps on inspiring all of us. It's quite incredible what she's doing, to be honest.

Of course, if you see the result, and you expect Serena to win in the finals, as she has done so many times before, you have to take into consideration what she's been through. Playing finals of Wimbledon is truly inspiring.

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