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July 9, 2018

Novak Djokovic

Wimbledon, London, England

N. DJOKOVIC/K. Khachanov

6-4, 6-2, 6-2

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Last round you fought off a hostile crowd. Tonight you fought off the lights and wind. Is adversity bringing out the best in you?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, when you have to face it, obviously the only thing you can do is try to find what's best that you can rely on from inside. The external, so to say, conditions, factors are there for both players, so you can't really affect the natural occurrence, the wind, rain or dark or light. It is what is. So you just have to kind of accept it.

Even though it is a big challenge, you know, it's not easy to kind of get used to it. I was warming up earlier today without any wind basically. You come out, you have to adjust your toss, the wind is changing direction all the time. Once you get used to a certain direction, it changes. But it is, as I said, same for both players.

I'm really happy the way I played tonight. I managed to win in straight sets against a player in form. I was really pleased with my second and third set. Really, really pleased. I made him play a lot. I served accurately, picking my spots, not really forcing the serve too much, trying to get easier first shot in the rally.

Just overall felt good in these difficult conditions.

Q. You seem so much more like your confident, assertive self here. Is it something triggered here at Wimbledon or something that's been happening since the French Open in your own mind?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Obviously, I mean, I'm approaching Roland Garros and Wimbledon this year for me is quite different from any other year because of circumstances that I was in in the last 12 months, the injury, the surgery, so forth.

But I felt like in the last month and a half, the level of tennis has been very close to where I would like it to be, where I'm used to having it, so to say, and playing on.

But I think historically I kind of didn't win trophies in Roland Garros, didn't manage to make that final step there many times. I came back, I think it was two or three times that I managed to win the trophy here after I lost in thrilling matches against Nadal in semifinals and finals to Wawrinka and Nadal.

Wimbledon is obviously a very special tournament for me and for many other players in the world. It's probably the most prestigious tennis tournament in the history of our sport. For me, of course, and for anybody else, it's a pleasure to be part of this event. So then I guess it gets the best out of you. It makes you focus.

I've faced difficult mental circumstances when I was losing those French Opens. It was really heartbreaking for me. But I think the fact that you have Wimbledon around the corner helps because you don't have time really to feel sorry about yourself. You go back on the court, train, try to do your best here.

Q. A bit of déjà vu from last year when you were waiting for Monfils and Anderson to finish?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Postmatch I heard that the organizers were planning to cancel my match if Monfils and Anderson went to a fifth. Luckily for me it didn't happen.

Q. That would have been unbelievable, two years in a row?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I know, I know. But it's not, so... I'm glad that we're talking tonight after a fourth-round win.

Q. The mixed doubles game was put onto Centre Court. Would you not have expected your game to be put on there rather than be canceled?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Of course, it's always an option. It's what I wished for. Like last year, I received the information that they can't reschedule my match on the other court because of the tickets that are presold. I guess there are other factors that play in.

Q. Is it one of the first times since few months that you sound so optimistic. I'm glad to hear it. It's because of these matches this week? Wimbledon? Three past wins? Also, how do you see the future? You have Nishikori you beat 13 times out of 15. Nadal won this tournament twice, but you won it three.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: First of all, thank you for the compliment. But I do feel like I'm more often optimistic than maybe you feel that. I like my chances in the match against Nishikori. I played very well in Queen's coming into Wimbledon. So far four matches have been really, really good for me. I haven't spent too much time on the court. I feel physically, mentally ready, fit, positive.

Again, you know, it's quarterfinals. Now the matches are only going to get tougher. I've been in this position and situation before many times. I don't want to look ahead too much. I just focus on Nishikori for now.

Q. Karen just said you had an answer for everything basically today. Did you feel like it was a good matchup for you? What did you think of his game in general?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I mean, I like Karen as a player and as a person a lot. We have respect for each other. We practice together quite often. I think I've never faced him before. But knowing his game, practicing with him a lot, I kind of prepared myself for what's potentially coming from him. He has pros and cons. I thought I managed well with his first serve. I got a lot of returns back in play. I made him always play an extra shot. I don't think he liked that.

He has a powerful game. Big serve, big forehand. Also backhand is great for this surface, especially because he hits it very flat.

He's a big guy, a powerful guy. He's working his way up the rankings. I think if he continues this way, he has a good chance to get to top 10.

Q. Next up is Kei. You have already played with him in Madrid and Rome. How do you think about playing him in quarterfinal in a Grand Slam, especially the first time on the grass court?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: On the grass courts, yeah. I think it's the first time for him in quarterfinals here in Wimbledon. I watched his match today with Gulbis. It was a pretty strange match, to be honest.

But he showed mental toughness. That's something that is very characteristic for him. He's established, top player. Struggled with injuries a little bit. But whenever he's fit, he can really beat anybody on any tournament. He has proven that in the past.

He's a big-match player. He doesn't get affected too much by the big occasions. In contrary, he actually delivers his best. So that's what I expect him to do. Hopefully we can have a good match.

Q. How difficult was it trying to prepare for today knowing you might not actually be getting on? How frustrating is it being put in that position?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, seeing who was scheduled before me on the court, the matches, Kerber and Bencic, I think Anderson and Monfils, I expected a long day. But, again, why spend energy on something that you can't change? I mean, it is what it is.

I just accepted it. I went with the flow of my routines and everything that I have to do to get myself ready for the match, if I get to play today. I also knew that there is a big chance of us getting interrupted by darkness, continuing the next day, as it happened for me last year. Those are the kind of circumstances that you just have to accept.

Q. Do you expect to be on Centre on Wednesday?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: We'll see. Hopefully.

Q. What's been the bigger challenge, trying to avoid getting ahead of yourself, or kind of the challenge of the past, these last couple years? Your past has been so remarkable in tennis. You're always compared to it. I'm sure you're comparing yourself, too.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I feel like the big challenge for me, obviously first of all after surgery was to really be able to be comfortable with the change of racquet, with different compensations that I've made in the motion of my serve. My game overall was just disturbed. I didn't feel comfortable on the court for long time. Indian Wells, Miami, most of the clay court season.

I just had to go back to basics and hit as many balls as I can on the practice courts, just get that feel. Also psychologically obviously, you know, I was so fortunate to have so much success on the tour over the course of 10-plus years. I was top 3 player for so many years in a row, it was quite a strange feeling for me not to be able to deliver my game that I know that I possess, that I know I've been delivering for so many years. It was frustrating, to be honest.

But I had to trust the process. I'm still part of that process. But things are looking much better in the last month and a half.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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