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August 17, 2018

Novak Djokovic

Cincinnati, Ohio


7-5, 4-6, 6-3

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. How satisfying is it to tough out two days in a row? Be back against Dimitrov a set and a break, and today against Raonic?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yeah. Well, I must be very pleased with fighting spirit and staying mentally tough to overcome deficits in both matches, as you mentioned.

Obviously the match against Dimitrov yesterday didn't start so well for me. He started tremendously well. Set and a break up and really dominating the match. Managed to find my way and win the second set and got interrupted first time few games. Got interrupted another time. You know, waited a couple of hours.

You know, we were not the only one in that kind of situation, but it just makes it harder, because, you know, you're warming up, you're cooling down, all these kind of things. We went home around 10:30. You know, came back this morning again to play him, and then, you know, couple hours of rest. And to go back on the court again against Raonic, who was serving 140-plus miles from the first game, that got me going, for sure, from the beginning.

You know, I had to be very much, you know, so to say, prepared and alert. Because when I lost my service game in the first set, I was obviously frustrated, very frustrated, because I know that I don't have my chances to get the serve back.

But I was fortunate to do so in the game when he was serving for the match, but, you know, I allowed again to lose my service games at the beginning of the second and third, which shouldn't happen, but credit to him for playing tactically well.

Yeah, I mean, in the end, very few points, really, decided winner. Until the last shot I didn't know whether I'm going to win it or not. Just very close matches. And I was fighting. I was giving my best. I really liked, you know, the composure, so to say, the focus that I had all the way through.

Q. Have you had a chance to look at the Davis Cup vote?

Q. If so, how do you see it?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: To be honest, it was, I guess, 50/50 chance that it's gonna happen or not, that it's going to get voted. You know, at the beginning I think people were very confident that it's going to pass the vote. And then the last few months, it was a lot of rumors that it's not going to happen.

So it did go through. In the end, what I think about it, I think that the change was inevitable for the format. I heard that people were mentioning my name in the support of the whole deal, which is not true. I am only in support of the format change. That, I have said, 15 years ago, 10 years ago, 5 years ago, and today. So it hasn't changed.

And my opinion towards that, I'm really glad that, you know, people of ITF are understanding the urgency of changing the format and the schedule. It was just not right, especially for the top players. In the last ten years, you could see that. Very few top players have played consistently the Davis Cup competition, which was, till recently, the only team, official team competition we have in our sport.

Right now we have World Team Cup, which is an ATP competition, and obviously that's, you know, that's gonna be a priority of many players. That's gonna come in the first week of the year, which is, I think, better schedule for all of us.

How we're going to play out this kind of situation where we have two big competitions, I really don't know. Davis Cup has a history. We all respect it. But we'll see. I mean, now ATP has got a very similar competition, and we'll see how that goes.

Q. You said on Tennis Channel the other day that you'd like to see Grand Slam matches switched to best-of-three format.

Q. How long have you felt that way? Have you always felt that way? How did you come to this opinion?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I sincerely always felt that there should be best of three. I personally don't feel like best of five is the right way. I mean, especially till the finals. Maybe finals, okay.

But it's okay. I mean, look, I don't want to sound like I have disrespect towards the history of, you know, best of five and Grand Slams. And contrary to that, I am someone that really knows the history of the sport and respects it and admires it and understands, you know, everyone that has paved the path for me and the other guys from previous generations.

I'm aware of my place in the sport, but in the same time, I just express my opinion. If I'm asked, of course I will always answer.

Q. (Question about player council.)
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Grand Slams, it's quite difficult. It's not that easy. Within the ATP structure, we can and we do have more influence, but with Grand Slams, it is completely different story, because they are independent entities and they make decisions without really consulting players, as well.

I mean, shot clock is one of the examples of that. Nobody has heard anything about, you know, about that before, no discussions. It was just announced, and, you know, we are the ones that have to play on the court. I mean, I definitely didn't like that.

Q. You talked about focus a few minutes ago. In the on-court interview, you talked also about your emotions helped you or maybe they hurt you a little bit today, right?

Q. In terms of managing that and kind of having that controlled aggression, which I think is balancing your emotions as well as your tactics and your decisions, how do you feel you're doing with that?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Okay (smiling). So far, I can't complain about my career and the success that I have had. I'm pretty much grateful for everything that I have experienced and achieved.

At the same time, talking specifically about emotions, you know, I am someone that is very expressive of emotions. And sometimes it works against me; sometimes it works for me.

But I never felt, so to say, embarrassed to say that I'm someone who makes mistakes, and I'm not proud when I break the racquet, especially I know there are kids around and watching, and I'm not proud of it, but sometimes it's just -- it's too strong, and you let it out. Important thing is to find a way to regroup and bounce back and try to refocus again.

Q. Going back to the Davis Cup issue for a moment, seems that the season is so long for players. So if you had to play this big sort of World Cup style Davis Cup at the end of the season and then the ATP one early, do you think it's possible that, you know, the new Davis Cup could be at Indian Wells instead of the current Indian Wells event, you know, with Larry Ellison's financial support? Is that something that might work if they had that event earlier in the season when you guys are still fresh?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I heard about that possibility, as well. I heard that Mr. Ellison, you know, supports and financially is part of, you know, part of the new project, which is great for our sport. You know, someone like him that loves tennis obviously has proven that with, you know, supporting the facilities and the whole tournament and in Indian Wells, which is probably the best 1000 event we have in tennis.

I don't know. I mean, that's probably a question more for ITF, because obviously they make the call. I mean, we don't -- you know, it doesn't seem, the players don't seem to have much of a say there, so I don't know. I don't know, to be honest.

We have more of a say in ATP world, and ITF is a different world. Federations are members of ITF, and we are part of federations, and federations supported us. So we are all kind of connected, but again, it's kind of confusing, I know, for someone who doesn't know tennis that much. And it's sad that we have to kind of, within our sport, instead of working together, you know, we're kind of working separately. But it is the way it is.

Q. Just going back to the Grand Slams, so if the Grand Slams stay at five sets and the Davis Cup is now going to go to three, it looks like, do you think that's going to deny, like, the Tsitsipases and the Zverevs, everybody of that era, the chance to actually learn to play a five-set match when they can only do it maybe at the slams? Is that a problem, or it doesn't really matter?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I mean, I don't see it as a problem, to be honest. They are already there. They are already playing on the highest level of our tour of Grand Slams, Davis Cup. I mean, I don't think it's going to make any significant difference in their lives if they experience the best of five or not.

To be honest, we are all looking to improve our sport in ways that are out there, possible for us, and to explore new, you know, new options, new possibilities.

I was always someone that supported innovation, and as long as it's within, so to say, the respectful borders of the history of the sport, you know. But comparing to other sports in this modern times, tennis, I think, hasn't fulfilled its potential. It's our culture, and tradition and history and integrity of the sport is something that is very important, but that has held us back, as well.

We have been a little bit too conservative in terms of exploring new ways. And someone will say, Well, you're against shot clock, so how come, you know, you're kind of contradicting yourself?

But again, I'm not in favor of every single change, but, you know, it's good to discuss and to find ways to improve the sport.

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