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November 14, 2018

Novak Djokovic

London, England, United Kingdom


6-4, 6-1

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. You seemed to have some tissue in your pocket, be coughing a little bit in the first set. Is this the same thing from Paris?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: It is. Unfortunately today hasn't been great in terms of that. But, yeah, somehow I managed to gather the strength when I needed it.

I think also it seemed like Sascha was not feeling really great, definitely not playing well, especially from the back of the court. He made a lot of errors.

Yeah, I mean, wasn't a great quality tennis match, to be honest, at least from the court.

Q. A lot of the game so far at the Finals have ended really quickly. We haven't seen a three-setter yet. Maybe the quality has not quite been there. What do you put that down to?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I'm not really sure. Nothing really necessarily to point out as the main reason for that happening. I don't think you can say it's because a lot of players are tired or whatever. I mean, for sure, substance is not as it is when you start the season.

At the same time we've seen some thrilling matches, three-setters, before this year, in previous years that we had in the O2. I don't see any particular reason. It just happens.

I guess winning the first set really counts this year. Then, I guess, you have mentally quite an edge.

Q. The last three games, Anderson, Roger and yourself, the plus 30 has wiped the floor with the 20-year-olds. Does it show the next generation are not quite ready to step up yet, experience rules in tennis?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Not necessarily. I know you guys might be a little bit rough on them. I think there is a lot of quality in the new generation. Zverev is obviously the leader of that next generation. He has proven himself, established himself as a top player. He has won many Masters 1000 events already, I think three in his career, which is quite impressive. You have to give him credit for that, qualifying for World Tour Finals two years in a row.

Then you have players like Khachanov, of course, Tsitsipas, Coric. I think tennis is in good hands. At the same time I think us older guys, we're still obviously working hard and working smart and trying to get the most out of what we have in ourselves left. How long that's going to go for, we don't know.

Obviously experience plays an important role in these kind of matches, knowing how to kind of approach, play, behave in certain moments, how to deal and cope with pressure. So obviously that's on our side.

Q. I know it's not directly connected with this match, but there is a huge news in Poland that Agnieszka Radwanska announced her retirement. How do you remember her? What do you think she brought to tennis?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, that's a surprise, to be honest. I didn't see that coming. Well, she decided she doesn't want to compete at tennis, I wish her really all the best in any future endeavors that she has in her life.

I remember her, and I think many of us in tennis, as one of the smartest women's tennis players that I have seen. Great variety. Doesn't have any big weapons in the game, strong shots maybe like Serena with serve and forehand. She just anticipated so well the play of her opponents. She absorbed the speed of the ball so well. She had slice and dropshots in her game, which you don't see that very often.

That's why she was so successful.

Q. Going back to the question about Alex. The next generation, you have experience working with Boris, how do you think Sascha working with Ivan Lendl will help in terms of the next level?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: First of all, I guess it takes time really to, I guess, create some chemistry, have things come together. Obviously Lendl is one of the biggest legends of our sport. Having him in your box as your mentor, as your tennis coach, is very valuable. I'm sure, I know actually, that Zverev values that a lot, he appreciates that.

Sascha is very passionate about this game. He looks always for ways to improve. He's still relatively young. Already a top three player of the world a couple years in a row.

It's okay. Everything is fine. He's playing at the very high level. It just takes a little bit more to really, as I said before, find that balance and find that extra level that he needs to win slams.

But he's definitely on the good path. Having Lendl, as I said, can only serve him as an incentive for an improvement.

Q. A couple months will be the Australian Open. There will be the usual issue with Margaret Court and homophobia. From your point of view, what do you think the reaction of the locker room would be if a male player came out as being gay?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I can only speak on my own behalf. I wouldn't have anything against that, absolutely. I mean, it's everybody's right to have sexual orientation as they desire, any kind of direction in life they desire. I respect it.

I don't see people differently if they come out like that. I actually see that as a really courageous move. We live in a society still that is not really -- still certain parts of the world are not ready to accept that.

Q. With this next generation, also the generation beyond them, as well, they're always compared to Federer, yourself, so forth. What advice would you give them? Do you feel for them a little bit?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: For the next generation?

Q. Yes.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, maybe it seems like it's harder nowadays to kind of make that breakthrough, win your first slam, as a teenager than what it used to be maybe 20, 30, 40 years ago.

The level of competition has just risen I think higher. The level of professionalism, level of dedication of players that are also ranked between 20 and 50 in the world is quite impressive. At least it has improved ever since I started playing professional tour.

And now I can actually see that many more players are traveling with one or two people in their team at least, taking everything very seriously, very professionally. That reflects on the quality of their game, results as well. Probably for the younger generation it takes a little bit more I guess effort to make that breakthrough.

Q. Roger said he took a day off before his next match and it seemed to help him. You earlier in the year said that break in the mountains helped you a lot. Will that be something you take into mind going into next year, that you will fit that in as well as your tennis?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Did Roger go the mountains yesterday (smiling)?

Q. No, just took time off with his family.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: No, I'm kidding (laughter).

Of course, look, Roger knows his body best. He has so many years behind him, so he knows exactly what he needs at the certain moment. Sometimes less is more. I couldn't agree with that more.

I mean, in my career, I've made similar moves in the middle of the tournament, and it works well. Sometimes you just need to get away, kind of disconnect to connect better. That's kind of a philosophy.

Q. Tennis has always been full of wars, fights, conflict of interest, ATP versus WTA, ITF, World Team Cup, Davis Cup, Laver Cup. What do you see as the future? Do you think money will be always the leading factor? Is there any chance we can get rid of all these fights, find some kind of a solution which would please everyone?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I don't necessarily think money is the driving factor. It might appear so. In a certain situation, obviously yes. But as president of the council, I've had the opportunity to meet with the most powerful people in our sport in the last couple of years. Obviously with players, get a lot of opinions.

I think majority really cares about this sport deeply, whoever is involved. Sometimes our differences get in the way. As you mentioned, ATP, ITF, they're two different independent associations, federations. Then you have obviously Grand Slams that operate independently, as well, as a separate entity.

It's not as easy. That's how system has been created and has been functioning for so many years. So we have to try to work with it, as well. You know, there are many interested sides. Is not as simple as just let's pull the trigger and make this happen or this radical move within a month. It doesn't work that way. There are members, constituents, boards. Everything has to be voted.

Whether I think the structure of the ATP specifically can be better, I actually do. I don't think it's working very well, to be honest. It's a slow process. But at the same time I can definitely say from my own experience of being in the players council earlier in my career, and now again for last four years, that this last players council group has been very active, proactive, in terms of communicating with each other, in terms of caring about everything that is going in the sport.

Obviously the Davis Cup and World Team Cup situation is delicate. We find ourselves in this kind of particular circumstances and situations that we have to deal with right now. I think in the next two years we'll have both events happening in a very similar format if not the same, six weeks apart. Whether I think that's good for our sport, I honestly don't think it's good for the sport.

More job opportunities for players, yes. But I think it's not sustainable. It will happen that we will have two average events. So I think creating one event is an ideal scenario and I think outcome for everyone.

From what I've heard from conversations with people from all of the sides, different sides in this sport, they all want to have one event because it's over-saturated with different cups, different events.

We have the longest season in all sports. We're just adding events. We kind of have to try to focus on quality rather than quantity.

Q. And the Laver Cup?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Obviously Laver Cup is not an official competition. It doesn't have the points. But it has to be regarded as a very successful, very serious competition that attracts a lot of attention. I watched it on TV last year. I was part of it this year.

I can definitely say it has attracted a lot of success and attention. So far it's been the only competition that can actually get the biggest rivals in sport in one team. That was a very unique experience.

So, yeah, I mean, this part of the year after the Grand Slam season is done, you have post US Open, Laver Cup, then Davis Cup, World Team Cup first week of the year. It's really over-saturated. Within three, four months, it's too many events.

We'll have to work it out. But we have to start from somewhere.

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