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August 28, 2018

Novak Djokovic

New York, NY, USA

N. DJOKOVIC/M. Fucsovics

6-3, 3-6, 6-4, 6-0

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Talk about the experience of being back here and playing, prevailing in a match that you had a little bit of a rocky patch.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: It was a tough one. We both struggled. We were not the only ones today. Obviously you had almost 10 retirements in the men's draw. Brutal conditions.

But it is what it is. You have to kind of deal with it. I had to find a way to dig myself out of the trouble. It was a set all and I was break down. I think that was a turning point. 4-3 in the third when he was serving, I managed to play a good game. I saw that he's starting to slow down a bit. He started to experience some physical issues. That's where I felt, Well, this is the time to use this kind of opportunity and try and get back in the match.

After that, I haven't lost a game till the end of the match. Obviously a 10-minute break was something that was very much appreciated and needed. I'm glad that we had that. Obviously, I haven't experienced that before. That was the first time. I think we both needed it.

Q. What do you think the rule should be in such conditions?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I thought the 10-minute break was great. I thought it was, as I said, a much-needed break for both of us after playing two-and-a-half hours, struggling. To be able to go back in the locker room and change clothes, take shower, grab something to eat, whatever, and just refresh, be in the shade, be in a cooler room, and then go out, it's quite different. You feel refreshed.

Q. You both were in an ice bath? This was not true?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yeah, it is true. We were both not in one ice bath, no (smiling). I said that very clearly. It was two ice baths, one next to another.

Q. How long do you usually stay?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: No, I mean, it was literally, I don't know, 45 seconds or one minute, and that's it. You go out. It was just to kind of shock your body in a way. It was so warm. It feels like everything is boiling in your body, the brain, everything.

The temperature is so high, so you want to try to counter that a little bit so you can refresh yourself.

Q. Should they have players out there when it's that hot? Shouldn't they at least shut down the shot clock? Some guys told me it's ridiculous.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yeah, I mean, it's understandable why players were complaining about it because only players know what they were experiencing today on the court. It's quite tough. I mean, it's really sad to see. I think Youzhny just retired his match because of cramping. There's so much cramping going on.

You don't want to see that. Obviously one can say, as well, whether you train, you have to be fit, of course. I agree with that. But there are some conditions that are so extreme, that as fit as you are, you can't just not feel it. I mean, it's there.

Yeah, I mean, the shot clock thing, it is obviously now becoming an integral part of the tour, as well, ATP Tour and Grand Slams. I think I'm expecting all the slams now to introduce it, honestly. US Open has introduced it without really consulting players, which was not that nice, to be honest. At the same time a decision was made. The good thing is at least we had the US Open Series tournaments, the ATP events prior to US Open leading to US Open with a shot clock so we could get used to it.

Now, you know, I don't know really how to answer your question. I mean, I understand players. When a rule is implemented, it's kind of hard to just switch the shot clock off just because the conditions are difficult and brutal obviously. Yet again, if it's done, if someone makes that decision in a call, I would agree, because I understand what players are going through.

Q. Late in the second set, you had the towels on you during that changeover. How worried were you at that point about your condition? Did it cross your mind at all that you might not be able to finish this match?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: No, no. I did not think I would not finish it. I was obviously hoping and praying that I'll get to feel better as the match progresses. Obviously I felt better, especially after that 10-minute break. For the first three sets, it was a survival mode for both of us.

You have those days, you have those matches where you just have to figure out a way to hang in there, deal with these particular circumstances.

Q. Is there a case, maybe like Washington does, where you start matches, you know the temperature is going to be as high as it is today, you start matches later in the day.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Later in the day, yeah.

The Grand Slams are different, obviously, because you have so many matches. You have 128 players, men's and women's, in the draw, have doubles coming up, mixed doubles. Sure, we have plenty of match courts. At the same time you have to justify the schedule and tickets and all these things. It's not as simple as let's just move one match three, four, five hours later. There's a lot going on, TVs, stuff like this, contracts in place. I understand that, I really do.

At the same time I am on the players' side, so I would always support kind of implications of the rules and regulations that would be in favor, so to say, of players' health most of all.

So, yeah, I mean, days like this, maybe sometimes, yeah, they could take that in consideration. Why not? Obviously this tournament is famous for its night sessions, going deep into the night. Doesn't rain that much. Now we have couple of courts with roofs. I'm sure the schedule of the day wouldn't be harmed so much if you start a bit later.

Q. In Australia, incredibly hot. Maybe the hottest in 45 years in Britain. Here just scorching. Do you think that's a trend? Any thoughts about that?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: If it is, I don't like the trend.

I'm not the weather guy, you know. I'm a tennis player. I leave that to someone else, to analyze what has historically happened in terms of the weather conditions going back to the tennis history, tennis past. I've noticed also 30, 40, 50 years ago we had tournaments where we had extreme heat conditions. It kind of goes up and down, has natural cycle.

Obviously all the pollution and everything that this world is doing at the moment to nature doesn't help. At the same time it is an outdoor sport that we are a part of. You have to just accept it and deal with it.

Q. Thanks for reminding the world there's nowhere to hide when things show up that are out of your control. You do this so well. I'm thinking of a teacher you had a long time ago. I can't remember her name. What is going through your mind? Is there something you learned way back then that you're pulling from now in those moments?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Thank you for asking the question. It's a really nice question.

Well, I think it's a combination of things. Yes, you were probably referring to Jelena Gencic, who is not with us anymore. She's my tennis mother, as I like to call her. I've learned all the fundamentals from her in terms of tennis knowledge, but also just knowledge of life. She was working hand-in-hand with my parents.

It's not easy for parents to find someone who is not part of the family who is influencing their child and mentoring their child. At that age, I was only seven, eight, nine years old. They allowed her. They worked hand-in-hand with her, trusted her. She was really quite a special person. So my parents and of course her were the biggest influence that I had in those days in terms of character building.

At the same time I think the conditions and circumstances that I grew up in during '90s, especially with the war and everything, I think that made me hungrier for achievements, for success even more. It's not a matter of whether I will be able to play nice tennis, be happy doing that. Of course, I'm happy doing what I love. But it was a matter of, Okay, now I have to do it.

I felt, even though my parents, especially my father, tried always to keep the responsibilities or maybe the awareness of the money struggles away from me, they didn't want me to know what they were going through, but I could see it. So I could understand the weight on their shoulders and also my shoulders in a way.

They believed in me. They trusted also a very small amount of people that were knowledgeable about this sport, and they were saying that I was talented. That's why they invested time and energy and means to support my career.

I think it's a combination of things. Obviously it's hard to pick one, say, element that has decided in this kind of trajectory.

Q. You can never be counted out in those moments. It's just something to watch, to see that.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Also nowadays it's an experience added to what I was just previously saying. I mean, being part of so many matches of this kind, as today, it just allows me to use that experience with someone maybe across the net who is less experienced.

Those small kind of details can really decide a winner in these particular matches, of you just knowing how to deal and cope with pressure in those moments where you select your shots or you just play a certain way or you have a rhythm of the point in a certain way and between the points and so forth. There are different things that are in place, so to say, when it comes down to that.

Q. Could you tell me what has changed the last two, three months in your game? Because you've now recovered your best tennis. Was there a particular moment when something special happened for you?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Not really. It's a process. I was mentioning before after surgery I actually thought that I'm ready to compete on a high level, which I wasn't. Surgery is quite an aggressive, you know, way to eliminate the issue that you have. But it was inevitable. When you say 'aggressive,' that means it takes quite some time to actually recuperate all the confidence and comfort on the court, of striking the ball the way you did before that. I could feel that firsthand actually how long it takes to bring back that flow in the game.

It took me about three, four months really to start playing consistently well match after match. I struggled in those three, four months. I've never faced this particular situation before, so for me it was something new but something I had to face. I've learned a lot in the process. I managed to grow and understand, you know, what it takes really to get to the desired level.

So last couple months have been really good for me on the court. Wimbledon win was a huge relief, I think, more than anything else, because I just personally put a lot of expectations and pressure on myself. I've usually done that in the past. I think it also taught me a lesson to be more patient, to be less hard on myself and understand that some things take time. You just have to accept that and embrace it.

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